Upd.: April 3, 2017 | 12:35pm
By Rebecca Rosenberg
|NYPD officers greet each other at Tyrone Howard’s sentencing in Manhattan Criminal Court.Reuters|
A cop-killing drug dealer was banished to life behind bars without the possibility of parole Monday for the cold-blooded 2015 shooting death of an NYPD officer — as the victim’s father refused to address him by name, referring to him as a “beast.”
“It’s been a very hard and hectic year for myself and my family because of that beast over there,” said Randolph Holder Sr., pointing angrily at defendant Tyrone Howard, who refused to look in his direction. “I just don’t want to call his name. He’s just so bad.”
A Manhattan jury found Howard, 33, guilty of fatally blasting posthumously promoted Detective Randolph Holder Jr. on an FDR Drive footbridge in October 2015 as he fled the scene of a non-fatal shooting nearby.
“The NYPD is such a great force. When we are asleep, they are taking care of us, protecting us,” said Holder Sr., who is a retired NYPD cop. “And then a miscreant like that beast over there to do something to any one of them is a shame.”
The courtroom was packed with over a hundred officers and dozens more spilled into the hallway.
The grieving father continued, “My son is dead, and he [Howard] is still breathing.”
Prosecutor Linda Ford lauded Holder Jr. for his courageous service and said his spirit lived on “in every single New York City police officer who goes to work each day.”
She even pointed out a detective with his bomb-sniffing dog in the back of the courtroom who named his canine Randy after Holder Jr.
Ford reminded Howard of the fate that awaited him: “He will take his last dying breath with only inmates and corrections officers accompanying him.”
Justice Michael Obus called the shooting of a police officer a “crime against the entire community” before handing down the mandatory minimum sentence of life without parole for the conviction for first-degree aggravated murder.
“Defendant Howard has demonstrated that he considers only his own interest, and he’s an extremely dangerous individual who must be isolated from the rest of society,” the judge said.
Howard, who hasn’t been at liberty for more than a year in the last 15 years of his life, chose not to address the court. As he was led out in cuffs, Holder Jr.’s stepmother, Princess Holder, shouted “piece of sh-t” and “burn in hell.”
The entire gallery erupted in applause.
Howard, whose prior rap sheet includes 27 arrests, encountered Holder and his partner, Omar Wallace, as he scurried up the ramp at East 120th Street in East Harlem after a drug-related shootout nearby.
The two officers raced to head off Howard at the footbridge. As they descended the ramp toward the East River Esplanade, the career criminal was coming toward them.
He fired his .40-caliber pistol and struck Holder virtually point-blank in the front of his head.
The bullet entered his brain and exited from the rear of his skull, leaving the young officer in a lifeless heap atop the darkened footbridge.
With his partner down, Wallace managed to return fire and struck Howard in the buttocks before futilely attending to Holder.
A swarm of activated cops eventually caught up to Howard around 124th Street as he tried to cross Harlem River Drive and placed him under arrest.
At trial, defense lawyer Michael Hurwitz argued that it was dark at the time of the chaotic confrontation and that the witnesses who identified Howard as the shooter may have been mistaken.
But prosecutors asserted Howard’s guilt — and sought to hammer home their case with Wallace’s stoic recollection of his partner’s slaying on the stand.
It took jurors four days to finally convict Howard of all the charges he faced including first-degree aggravated murder and second-degree murder.