December 3, 2010

PBA: Stop Cop-Killers’ Parole-Board Shopping

Four Delay Hearings

Patrick J. Lynch: "Never let them out."    
PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘Unfair to victims’ families.’



Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch has asked the Chairwoman of the state Division of Parole to stop allowing cop-killers to continually adjourn their parole hearings until they get a sympathetic mix of commissioners to hear their case.

"It is clearly unfair for the slain officer's family and inconsistent with the principles of justice for this adjournment charade to continue," Mr. Lynch wrote to Andrea W. Evans in a letter dated Nov. 3.

Four Won Adjourned Hearings

Al O'Leary, a PBA spokesman, said four cop-killers had recently adjourned their parole hearings and the union believes it's because they were doing what Mr. Lynch called "parole-commissioner shopping." They are:

  • Rodney Bailey, convicted of killing Police Officer Robert Bilodeau of the Street Crime Unit in 1980 during a foot chase in Harlem. Officer Bilodeau, who previously was stabbed in the eye and later had his throat slashed while working undercover (a case that sparked a PBA-led furor when Criminal Court Judge Bruce Wright released his assailant without bail), was twice awarded the NYPD Medal of Honor.

  • Steven Chirse and Ronnie Bush, convicted of killing off-duty Police Officer Angelo E. Brown in 1984 as he was resisting being robbed in Brooklyn.

  • Lawrence Harris, convicted of killing Police Officer Seraphin Calabrese of Transit District 1 in 1980 with the officer's own weapon during an arrest for fare-beating at the Columbus Circle subway station.

'Abuse of Process'

The state's 19 parole commissioners show up at prisons in groups of three for a day of questioning inmates seeking parole. Mr. Lynch wrote that inmates can see the commissioners arrive and know which ones will be hearing cases scheduled for that day.

"If in the inmate's view, an individual commissioner is not considered favorable for his release, the killer simply adjourns the hearing looking for a more favorable panel," he wrote, "This abuse of process goes to the integrity of the entire process..."

Allowing postponements "for no particular reason...causes the families of slain police officers to suffer the trauma of adjournment after adjournment with no formal explanation, thus victimizing them once again."

Mr. Lynch made three recommendations. First, he said, adjournments should be requested at a meeting with parole officials before the day of the hearing. Second, if the parole officials believe the reason for the adjournment request is legitimate, the inmate should appear before the parole commissioners on the hearing date and see whether they agree. Third, if the adjournment is granted, family members and victims must be notified of the reason.

Cop-Killers Paroled

The Parole Division would not comment on Mr. Lynch's letter.

Two cop-killers were paroled in the last 11 years, one recently, Mr. O'Leary said.

Shu'aib Raheem was paroled in July after serving 35 years for killing Police Officer Stephen Gilroy during a hostage situation at a sporting-goods store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1973. Mr. Raheem was initially paroled in 2007, but his release was delayed after the PBA fought to allow Officer Gilroy's widow and other victims to provide statements to the parole board.

Albert Victory was paroled in 1999 on a conviction for killing Police Officer John E. Varecha in 1968 when the officer stopped a car in which Mr. Victory was riding on East 54th St. in Manhattan.