Upd. March 6, 2017 | 5:33pm
By Priscilla DeGregory and Rebecca Rosenberg
|Tyrone Howard. Photo: Steven Hirsch
A career criminal was found guilty of murder Monday for gunning down an NYPD cop during a foot chase in East Harlem, as fellow police officers, the victim’s family and even some jurors wept in the courtroom.
It took the panel four days to find Tyrone Howard, 32, guilty of aggravated murder, first-degree murder, robbery and other charges for shooting Officer Randolph Holder in October 2015. Howard faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole.
Three jurors sobbed as the foreman read the unanimous verdict. Holder’s father, who is a retired NYPD cop, used a white handkerchief to wipe the tears from his cheeks.
Just an hour earlier, the panel sent a note to Justice Michael Obus, stating that they were deadlocked on several counts, but the judge urged them to continue deliberating.
Three of the jurors, who declined to give their names, said as they left teh courthouse that it was a difficult and emotional experience.
“We just wanted to do what was right and follow the semantics and the law,” said a male juror.
A female juror said, “It was like ’12 Angry Men’ in reverse,” but did not elaborate. Another panelist chimed in, “We wanted to be thorough.”
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. thanked the jury for their service and the NYPD in a brief statement.
Later, as he exited the courthouse, he said, “This is a tragic case and a sad day, but we can’t thank our police officers enough for putting their lives on the line every day.”
PBA President Pat Lynch, flanked by Holder’s family, choked up as he told the press outside the courtroom, “These police officers lost a brother. Today we got justice.” Dozens of cops standing behind him clapped.
Police Commissioner James O’Neil praised the verdict as “proper and just.”
At trial, Assistant District Attorney Linda Ford told jurors that Holder, 33, and his partner confronted Howard on the ramp of an E. 120th St footbridge minutes after he fled from a drug-related shootout.
He knows they’re looking for him and he knows why,” she said of Howard. “He took out the gun, the .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol, he aimed at the officers and pulled the trigger. He fired one shot and he struck Officer Holder in the front of his head.”
The bullet pierced Holder’s brain and exited the back of his skull, leaving him crumpled on the asphalt.
Twenty minutes earlier, Howard was in a gunfight on E. 102nd St and fled north, snatching a man’s bicycle on the way, according to trial testimony.
Holder and his partner, Omar Wallace, raced north to head off Howard at the footbridge. As they descended the ramp toward the East River Esplanade, Howard was coming toward them. He pulled out a gun from his pocket and shot Holder in the head before sprinting off.
Wallace returned fire and struck Howard in the buttocks before attending to his grievously wounded partner, who lay on the ground in a widening pool of blood, he testified.
Howard didn’t make it far and was captured near 124th Street as he tried to cross Harlem River Drive.
Defense lawyer Michael Hurwitz argued at trial that it was dark, and the witnesses who identified Howard as the shooter may have been mistaken.
“They must prove identity beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hurwitz argued.