Rookie NYPD Officer Makes the Supreme Sacrifice.
On February 26, 1988 one of the most brutal murders in the history of the NYPD occurred on a quiet street in Jamaica Queens. A young rookie was ambushed and killed in a homicide that would galvanize the country.
Edward Byrne was the 22-year-old son of a NYPD Lieutenant. He had graduated the Police Academy the year before and was assigned to the busy 1-0-3 Precinct.
On the midnight shift of February 25th Byrne got assigned to a fixer. All NYPD rookies get stuck with fixers, a usually boring night sitting on a fixed post. He was assigned to safeguard a house near the corner of Inwood Street and 107 Avenue. The homeowner there was a Guyanese immigrant named Arjune who had called the police one too many times on the local drug gang.
The gang, who called themselves Bebos, were led by Howard “Pappy” Mason and Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols. The Bebos had firebombed Arjune’s house and cops feared that his life was in serious jeopardy. Hence the fixed post in front.
At 3:30 in the morning a group of Bebos drove to the block where Officer Byrne was assigned. They had been directed by Phillip Copeland to kill a cop. Copeland in turn had received the order from Pappy Mason, who was in jail at the time. Scott Cobb drove the car to the Arjune house. Todd Scott approached Officer Byrne from the passenger side of his RMP and distracted him. David McClary shot the young officer five times, killing him instantly.
The perps fled but within a week all four were captured. They were all convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder. Pappy Mason was also later charged federally with numerous drug and violence conspiracy charges, including the murder of Police Officer Edward Byrne.
The crime shocked the nation. President Regan called the Byrne family to express condolences. George Bush, who was running for President at the time also became involved in the case. The crack epidemic was destroying American cities and crime was a major issue on the campaign. He was given Officer Byrne’s shield as a reminder of the sacrifices of police officers and the need to engage the federal government in the fight on drug violence. Bush kept the shield on his desk for his entire presidency. Bush moved the Department of Justice forward on crack fueled violence conspiracies. He also helped create the Byrne Justice Program, which provided money to the Department of Justice for drug investigations and takedowns.
To learn more about this horrific crime you can read Cop Shot by Mike McAlary. The book details the drug wars in Jamaica before the murder and the great work done to capture and prosecute the killers.