January 2, 2013


Fourth Strikeout in Bid For Parole in Murder Of P.O. Edward Byrne


The go-between in the 1988 assassination of rookie Police Officer Edward Byrne was denied parole Dec. 20.

Philip Copeland's failure to win parole means that all four men convicted in state court of killing Officer Byrne, 22, as he guarded the firebombed house of a witness in several drug cases will remain in prison.

All Serving 25 to Life

Todd Scott, who distracted the officer, and David McClary, who shot him five times in the head at close range, were both denied parole in November. Scott Cobb, who drove the getaway car, lost his bid earlier in December.

The four men are serving terms of 25 years to life. Their next parole hearings are at the end of 2014.

Mr. Copeland served as a liason between the other three men and Howard "Pappy" Mason, who ordered it. Mr. Mason ran a multi-million-dollar drug ring and the witness whose house Officer Byrne was guarding played a role in his arrest. Mr. Cobb testified that before the murder, an aide to Mr. Mason told him "'Pappy wanted a police officer killed."

Mr. Mason is serving a life term at a Federal supermax prison in Colorado after being convicted for conspiracies including the Byrne murder and drug-trafficking.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch joined Mr. Byrne's family in delivering a victim-impact statement to the Parole Board. The PBA has vowed to keep the Byrne killers in prison.

"Phillip Copeland was the last of the four mutts convicted in the cold-blooded assassination of Police Officer Edward Byrne to be denied parole," Mr. Lynch said in a statement. "Officer Byrne was guarding the home of a witness in a case against a notorious drug dealer when these four assassins shot him to death behind the wheel of his marked patrol car. We are grateful to the hundreds of thousands of right-minded citizens who used our union's website to express their opposition to the release of these killers.

"Sadly, these four killers will have another opportunity to con the parole board into an early release in 2014," he continued. "But I can promise them that this union, its members and the good people who support police will be there standing side by side to ensure that they never get out."