Two incidents last week — one out of the past, the other frighteningly current — remind us that the life of a cop is a precarious one.
On Friday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Larry Byrne presented his family’s victim-impact statement opposing parole for Philip Copeland. Copeland is one of four men convicted of assassinating his brother, Officer Edward Byrne, in South Jamaica on Feb. 26, 1988.
Officer Byrne, then 22, had been assigned to guard the home of a man known as “Arjune,” a witness in a drug case. The execution was ordered from jail by drug kingpin Howard Mason. The four assassins — David McClary, Scott Cobb, Todd Scott and Copeland — shared $8,000 for the killing. They bragged to others about their crime, leading to their arrests a few days later.
In a phone interview, Larry Byrne said, “Copeland was the mastermind and ringleader. He gave a false alibi and has never shown remorse. At his sentencing, he announced to the courtroom, ‘I’ll be back.’ ”
In 1988, the killers were sentenced to 25 years to life. Since 2012, they come up for parole every two years. A parole hearing for Copeland is scheduled for November.
The second incident was the shooting last week of Officer Hart Nguyen. The shooter was Andy Sookdeo, a man with “a history of psychological issues,” said Commissioner James O’Neill.
An argument with Sookdeo’s father turned violent. His mother called 911, saying her son was unarmed and nonviolent, but off his meds. When police arrived, she told them her son was in a backroom.
He then fired several shots at Nguyen, two of which were stopped by his vest, police said. Another bullet struck him in the arm. Sookdeo then barricaded himself in his bedroom and committed suicide, police said, adding that two guns and ammo were found there.
NYPD spokesman Steve Davis said the department handles 156,000 cases a year involving emotionally disturbed people. “When cops arrive, they never know what to expect,” he said.
The New York Post editorial board noted “the unreasonable reliance on the NYPD to handle things when they reach crisis level.” True enough. But how did Sookdeo obtain his guns and ammo?
Said Davis in an email: “No permits . . . still tracing origin of the guns.”