By DANIEL CASSADY
A 31-year-old East Harlem man who has been accused of fatally shooting a decorated, third-generation police officer from Guyana recently, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison for possession of 33 small bags of crack cocaine.
The drug case against Tyrone Howard has received heavy attention from media in the weeks since the shooting, largely due to statements made by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton that all but blamed the shooting of Police Officer Randolph Holder on the presiding judge, Justice Patricia Nuñez, for granting Howard admission into a drug treatment program instead of giving him jail time.
The defendant appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court shackled and surrounded by three officers.
Before Nuñez handed down the sentence, she addressed what she called the “false narrative that has been presented in the press” about the background of the case.
The Mayor’s comments were picked up by the New York Post which, she said, failed to do proper reporting and blamed the judges for letting a violent criminal out on the street with a soft sentence instead of the jail time.
Contrary to the Mayor’s statement, Nunez said that Howard was out on bail, which had nothing to do with the drug treatment program.
Nunez made it a point say that so-called judicial diversion as a policy was enacted because politicians were clamoring for a program that would give treatment to drug addicts instead of jail time, so that they could become law-abiding productive citizens.
“Shame on those politicians who now point fingers and try to blame the judges for a program that they themselves wanted,” Nuñez said.
Howard had a string prior drug arrests and a documented history of addiction.
This spring, after his most recent drug related arrest, he was admitted into a judicial diversion program which allowed him to enter a drug treatment program instead of serving time in prison.
Howard was granted a three-month delay in starting the treatment program after saying that he needed a clinic that would be able to take on one of his children as well, under the condition that he submit to daily drug testing at Manhattan Drug Court. He was then released on bail.
After failing to appear in court in September, a bench warrant was issued against Howard. It was then that Howard had his fatal encounter with Holder, shooting him once in the head.
“You exercised you free will to continue your life of crime and violence,” Nunez said before the sentencing. “Yesterday you received mercy, today you will receive justice.”
Howard was scheduled to be arraigned in the killing of Holder later this month.