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Updated: May 18, 2024, 6:31 PM

Family of slain NYC hero fights cop killer’s parole every two years: ‘We’re forever in our life sentence’

By Tina Moore

The state is poised to spring a cop killer from prison — the 42nd in the past seven years — as the officer’s family fights to keep the career criminal behind bars, The Post has learned. 

Police Officer James Whittington was off-duty in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on Oct. 30, 1982, when he encountered felon Mitchell Martin, who was armed and fighting with a woman.

Whittington chased after Martin while trying to arrest him before Martin fatally shot the police officer at close range.

Martin was sentenced to 25 years to life and has been in prison since August 1983.

The parole board is set to consider the 66-year-old’s release from Elmira in June.

The police officer’s daughter, Nicole Demby, plans to implore the release-happy parole board to keep Martin behind bars — a laborious chore the family endures every two years.

“You know, my father’s life sentence began 42 years ago,” the 48-year-old mom said.

“He’s in Greenwood Cemetery and that’s his place. My mother’s life sentence began at that time too. She’s 83 and she never remarried.”

“We’re forever in our life sentence.”

Martin first came up for parole in 2014.

“We had peace of mind before that,” said Demby, who works for Amazon in Manhattan. “We thought life meant for life.”

Now, every two years “we’re reopening a wound that we’re constantly trying to mend.

“For a person to take the life of a police officer it means they not only have a disregard for human life, but they also have a disregard for society. Because of that, there really is no place for them in our society.”

The surge in freeing cop killers is due in large part to a revision in 2017 to the rules governing how the 17-member parole board weighs a prisoner’s release, in part because of lobbying by prison reformers and legal groups, a law enforcement source said.

The board gives more weight to an inmate’s age and record while in prison — and less to the crime they committed, the source said.

Board members are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate and have increasingly been left-leaning.

“If they let this vicious cop killer out of jail, it’s an insult to our hero police officer and his family,” Police Benevolent Association Patrick Hendry said. “He gave his life that day. This family lost everything and this vicious cop killer should stay behind bars where he belongs.”