A judge sentenced the man who killed NYPD Officer Randolph Holder to life without parole this afternoon. A Manhattan jury convicted Tyrone Howard, 32, of first-degree aggravated murder and several other felony charges on March 6th following a monthlong trial and four days of deliberations.
Prosecutors said at trial that Howard traded shots with rival gang members in East Harlem on October 20th shortly before his encounter with Holder. Holder and his partner were in plainclothes with their badges out when they ran into Howard 13 minutes later, riding a stolen bike up the ramp to a footbridge over FDR Drive at 120th Street. Recognizing Howard from a prior marijuana arrest, Holder's partner Omar Wallace yelled, "Hey!" and Howard jumped off his bike, pulled out a gun, and shot at close range, hitting Holder in the head, according to Wallace's testimony. Wallace shot back and hit Howard in the rear. Officers arrested him four blocks away, and NYPD divers found the murder weapon in the Harlem River.
At sentencing, Holder's father, a retired officer, refused to call Howard by his 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,” Randolph Holder, Sr. said, pointing at Howard. “I just don’t want to call his name. He’s just so bad.”
He continued, “The NYPD is such a great force. When we are asleep, they are taking care of us, protecting us. And then a miscreant like that beast over there to do something to any one of them is a shame.”
The late Holder immigrated from Guyana in his early 20s and had been on the force for five years when he was killed at 33.
Judge Michael Obus called the shooting of a police officer a “crime against the entire community" before delivering the sentence, the mandatory minimum for the crime. Howard, a small-time drug dealer, was also convicted of robbery, weapon possession, reckless endangerment, and possession of a forged instrument.
During the trial, Howard's lawyer argued that his client didn't know that the people coming towards him were cops, emphasizing that it was dark and the officers were not in uniform. He also said Wallace could not have positively identified Howard given the light and the fact that the earlier arrest was 14 months before the fatal attack.
At one point on the last day of deliberations, the jurors sent a note to the judge saying that they could not agree on some of the charges. He told them to keep deliberating, and they came back hours later with a verdict of guilty on all counts. The jurors declined to elaborate on the nature of their disagreements.
Police officers packed the proceedings.
Summing up Howard's fate today, assistant district attorney Linda Ford said, "He will take his last dying breath with only inmates and corrections officers accompanying him."