October 20, 2015 | 9:40pm  

 

Sister of slain cop rips into suspect: ‘I hope you burn in hell!’

By Rebecca Rosenberg, Tina Moore and Jamie Schram

Pool
Tyrone Howard appears at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Oct. 21.

The career-criminal gangbanger accused of killing an NYPD cop in East Harlem Tuesday night dodged up to 25 years in the slammer for selling drugs last year — because a judge sent him to ­rehab instead.

Tyrone “Peanut” Howard, 30, scored the sweetheart deal despite a rap sheet that lists a staggering 28 ­arrests since age 13, including one tied to the shooting of a rival dealer and two innocent bystanders in 2009.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton blasted the May decision to put Howard into a “judicial diversion program” for drug addicts.

Howard over the summer had apparently skipped out on his required residential treatment under the deal — and was wanted in connection with the Sept. 1 shooting of an East Harlem drug dealer — when he allegedly gunned down 33-year-old plainclothes cop Randolph Holder.

“If ever there was a candidate not to be diverted, it would be this guy. He’s the poster boy for not being ­diverted,” Bratton fumed.

“His whole life has been about ­escalation of crime and criminal ­activity.”

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio — who opposes “mass incarceration” as part of his progressive agenda — said Howard was “obviously a hardened, violent criminal who should not have been allowed on the streets.’’

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. — whose office sought a six-year prison stint for Howard over the drug bust last year — also said in a statement: “We recommended state prison for the defendant and opposed his request for diversion.”

Court records show that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Patricia Nuñez formally sentenced Howard to a deferred two-year prison term when he pleaded guilty on May 14 to criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Under terms of the deal, the case would have been completely dismissed if Howard had completed 18 months of residential drug treatment followed by six months of outpatient treatment and six months of probation.

Howard’s lawyer also wrote a letter asking for special treatment because prison time would have made life tough for his common-law wife and two children, a source said.

He appeared in court on July 2 to verify compliance with the program but failed to appear again on Sept. 17, when a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Nuñez didn’t return requests for comment.

But Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Edward McLaughlin readily said he recommended Howard for the diversion program because the jurist believed none of Howard’s convictions involved violence.

When told about Howard’s 2009 arrest in the triple shooting — in which an innocent 11-year-old boy and 77-year-old man were wounded by stray bullets — McLaughlin said, “I have no idea about that.

“This is the first time I’m hearing about that. All I have is that there were four felony convictions,” he said.

But court records show that McLaughlin was told about the 2009 shooting and an armed robbery that Howard committed as a youth in 1999 — violent crimes that should have kept him out of the ­diversion program.

According to a transcript of the proceedings, defense lawyer Robert Levy called those incidents “two wrinkles” and asked that they not be turned into “automatic disqualifications.”

“I said that upon reading the report that Mr. Levy submitted, I wrote two words on my yellow sheet which remain there, which will remain there until the planet, the universe, the state and the city become an ember, and the words are: why not?” McLaughlin said, ­according to the transcript.

Sources said the 2009 case involving Howard revolved around a basketball-court gunfight in which Howard allegedly shot Dan Evans, then 24. But the charges against Howard were dropped because there were no corroborating witnesses.

The gunman was arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday night, surrounded by 100 cops and the slain officer’s family.

“That’s my brother, I hope you burn in hell you f–king punk ass,” Holder’s sister shouted. The suspect was ordered held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and robbery.

Outside court, the officer’s family called for stronger efforts to get guns off the street.

“The issue and concern is that we need to protect our officers,” said a cousin, Abena Johnson. “Get the guns off the street, that’s it. Get the guns off the street.”

Tuesday’s cop killing — which marked the fourth in the city in less than a year — followed a gun battle between Howard and another man that stemmed from a long-running turf war over drug sales near the East River Houses, sources said.

That dispute was also behind the Sept. 1 shooting that Howard allegedly committed, sources said. Police had attempted to nab Howard 10 times after the September shooting, to no avail.

During a police chase, Holder and his partner, Omar Wallace, 31, followed Howard across a footbridge over the FDR Drive and were about halfway down a ramp when the suspect spotted them from 20 feet away, sources said.

“The perp immediately pulls out a .40-caliber gun with a long cartridge from his waistband. He says absolutely nothing and just opens fire,” a source said.

“The gun looks like an Uzi, and he fires a single shot, which hits Officer Holder square in the forehead. He drops to the ground.”

Wallace returned fire and hit Howard in the butt as he ran away, but the suspect staggered north to 124th Street, where other cops saw him drenched in blood and arrested him, sources said.

“Meanwhile, Wallace and two other cops who responded call for help and go to work on Holder. They try to save his life, but he’s in really bad shape,” a source said.

The cops carried their mortally wounded comrade to a police van and rushed him to Harlem Hospital, where he was kept on life support until his family could arrive, after which he was pronounced dead, sources said.

When he was arrested, Howard insisted he didn’t shoot Holder, saying: “You cops shot me. Bring the cop here who shot me and then I’ll talk,” a source said.

“He was being real difficult. He was acting like a real a–hole,” ­another source said.

Howard also stuck to his story when he was brought to Harlem Hospital, saying “Yeah, they shot me like a dog. I wasn’t armed. I had an altercation with the police at the stairwell and they just shot me anyway,” a source said.

“He’s blaming everybody but himself,” the source added.

Additional reporting by Larry Celona, Dana Sauchelli, Daniel Prendergast, Philip Messing, Bob Fredericks and Bruce Golding