[NY Daily News] – A hero city cop, unlike the cold-blooded career criminal accused of taking his life, never had a second chance.
An outraged Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton blasted the court program that freed a one-time PCP addict with a 16-year rap sheet — leaving him free to kill Officer Randolph Holder.
Not only did murder suspect Tyrone (Peanut) Howard dodge a six-year prison term after selling a sob story to a Manhattan judge, he repeatedly eluded arrest for seven weeks after a Sept. 1 shooting, police said.
A source indicated Howard’s lawyer wrote a letter asking for special treatment because prison time would have made life tough for the defendant’s girlfriend and two kids
The murdered Officer Holder, of Brooklyn, left behind a 16-year-old daughter, according to his dad.
Howard was rejected from the diversion program in 2011 after his arrest for smoking PCP while carrying 22 bags of crack and cocaine, court records show. He instead pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 18 months.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. was fuming Wednesday about the lenient treatment given to Howard, despite his office’s strenuous objections.
“I am deeply angered and saddened by the senseless murder of Police Officer Holder,” said Vance. “This defendant was part of a strategic investigation and prosecution conducted by our violent criminal enterprises unit, targeting the individuals driving crime in East Harlem.
“We recommended state prison for the defendant, and opposed his request for diversion.”
Howard was one of 19 people arrested in a law enforcement crackdown last year in the East River Houses and the surrounding area. The crew was suspected of selling drugs in lobbies, stairwells and playgrounds.
The 2009 shooting case, which also included a 77-year-old victim, was dropped because “we didn’t have any eyewitnesses saying that he was the shooter,” a law enforcement source said.
But Howard’s criminal pedigree was hardly in doubt.
A member of the East Harlem Army gang, he owned a rap sheet that included a gun arrest at 14 and three convictions for drug possession with intent to sell, officials said.
He was wanted at the time of Holder’s killing for a drug-related Sept. 1 shooting on E. 105th St. in which he fled on a bicycle, sources said. The victim was on parole.
De Blasio and Bratton stopped by the Far Rockaway, Queens, home where Holder’s father, Randolph Sr., lives with his wife, Princess, to offer their condolences. The elder Holder and his father were both police officers in their native Guyana.
Holder, on the force five years, was mortally wounded without even getting off a shot in the deadly Tuesday night showdown in East Harlem.
Howard was shot by Holder’s plainclothes partner, Officer Omar Wallace, who recognized the suspect from a previous arrest scene, sources said.
Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry detailed the 13-minute stretch that began with gunfire in a E. 102nd St. housing project and finished with a bleeding Holder mortally wounded on a ramp over the FDR Drive.
Two NYPD housing cops on a rooftop saw a gunfight down below at 420 E. 102nd St., and called for backup, he said. A gun-toting Howard bolted northbound, running toward the promenade along the East River.
He stole a bicycle at gunpoint from a man “sitting there, enjoying a nice night,” said Aubry, before pedaling north from the scene of the crime.
Holder and his partner, working plainclothes anti-crime, encountered the fleeing suspect at 120th St. as he rode toward them on a pedestrian ramp.
Howard “drops the bike, pulls out a weapon, and fires it once into (the officer’s) head,” Aubry said.
When Howard was arrested nearly five blocks away, wounded and bleeding, it ended a string of 10 failed NYPD attempts to bring him into custody since the Sept. 1 shooting.
At some point, the suspect managed to ditch the gun and toss the magazine into the East River — where it was recovered Wednesday, police said. There were still 13 shots in the magazine.
One shell was found near the spot where Holder was killed, while another 11 rounds were discovered near the area of the original shootout, police said.
The suspect initially lied to cops, insisting his name was “Juan Gonzalez,” before police used facial recognition technology to determine his true identity, police said.