Edward Byrne (police officer)

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This article is about the New York City police officer. For the civil engineer, see Edward Abraham Byrne.
Edward R. Byrne
New York City Police Department (NYPD)
(1966-02-21)February 21, 1966 – February 26, 1988(1988-02-26) (aged 22)
Nickname(s) Eddie
Badge number 14072
Place of birth New York City, New York, USA
Place of death Jamaica, Queens, New York, USA
Years of service 1986 - 1988
Rank 1986 - Commissioned as a Police Officer

Edward "Eddie" R. Byrne (February 21, 1966 – February 26, 1988) was a police officer in the New York City Police Department who became well known in the United States after he was murdered while on duty.

Byrne's father had also been an NYPD officer. Byrne had joined the NYPD on July 15, 1986 and was stationed in the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens. Prior to joining the NYPD, Byrne was a NYC Transit cop.

Murder[edit]

Around 3:30 a.m, on February 26, 1988 Byrne was sitting in his marked patrol car on 107th Avenue and Inwood Street in South Jamaica, Queens. He was assigned to keep an eye on the house of a local Guyanese immigrant named Arjune who had repeatedly called the police to report on illegal activities on his street. The house had been previously firebombed on two separate occasions and the owner repeatedly threatened. As Byrne sat in his car another car pulled up beside him. Two men exited and one of them knocked on the passenger side window of Byrne's cruiser while a second man crept up on the driver's side and shot Byrne in the head five times with a .38 caliber pistol. Two other men acted as lookouts. Byrne was pronounced dead at a hospital. He was 22 years old.

It was later learned that the assailants canvassed the immigrant's house twice on preceding days before killing Officer Byrne, but decided not to kill the lone officer in the patrol car since the first officer they encountered was a young female, and the second was a black male.

The murder prompted nationwide outrage. Ronald Reagan personally called the Byrne family to offer condolences. George H.W. Bush carried Byrne's badge with him on his campaign for president in 1988.

The four killers were identified as Philip Copeland, Todd Scott, Scott Cobb, and David McClary. All four were apprehended within a week of the murder and were all eventually convicted: Copeland, Scott and Cobb were convicted after trial of Murder in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree; McClary was convicted later as the shooter in a separate trial of Murder in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. All were sentenced to 25 years to life by Queens Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Demakos, who had presided over the trials. Cobb, in a videotaped confession which was played at trial, provided graphic details of the killing and also told of the bragging of the participants in the aftermath, as well as indicating that the killing was ordered from jail by drug dealer Howard "Pappy" Mason who had wanted to "ice a cop." Mason's crime partner Lorenzo "Fat Cat" Nichols was also implicated, although it has been determined that he was unaware of Mason's orders and was never charged for the crime.

The murder had the opposite effect from what was intended. Rather than intimidate the police and public, it prompted a concentrated crackdown which saw the two kingpins put behind bars. Mason was eventually convicted on federal charges which included ordering the killing of Officer Byrne. He is serving his life sentence in the ADX Florence supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

91st Avenue

Legacy[edit]

In honor of Police Officer Edward Byrne, 91st Avenue was renamed P.O. Edward R. Byrne Avenue. Pol. Officer Edward Byrne Park in Queens was dedicated on August 3, 1995. A school in the Bronx, Junior High School 101, was renamed in his honor. The Police Athletic League renamed its Queens Center the Edward J. Byrne Center and fills it year-round with quality educational and recreational programs. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program was established via the Department of Justice which directs funding to local law enforcement agencies with the primary concept being to enhance officer safety via equipment, technology and training.

See also[edit]