According to records from the New York State Department of Corrections, Scott Cobb, who drove the getaway car during the infamous “crack gang” slaying of NYPD officer Edward Byrne in 1988, has been released from prison after serving 34 years. The news of his release has been kept quiet.
At the age of 60, Cobb was finally granted parole in July. He had been in federal custody for most of his prison sentence and is the first of the four men who were convicted in the murder of 22-year-old Byrne to be released.
According to Patrick Hendry, the President of the Police Benevolent Association, he recently had a conversation with the Byrne family and discovered that they had not received any notification from the parole board regarding the official date of Cobb’s release. The Byrne family is reportedly devastated by this news, as shared by Hendry.
According to reports, the individuals involved in the heinous act were compensated with a whopping $8,000 to commit the murder of a police officer. The incident shook the entire NYPD to its core, especially since the department was already grappling with an unprecedented surge in homicides during the crack-cocaine epidemic that had ravaged NYCHA complexes and other low-income neighborhoods. The murder of a law enforcement officer only added fuel to the fire, leaving the community in a state of shock and disbelief. To read more about this tragic event, click on the link provided.
Half a year following Byrne’s murder, federal agents conducted a raid that resulted in the dismantling of the crack empire run by Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, who was already imprisoned, in South Jamaica, Queens. Nichols’ mother and sister were also taken into custody during the operation.
In federal court, Howard “Pappy” Mason, the notorious drug enforcer who gave the order to murder a police officer, was found guilty. Mason’s anger stemmed from his arrest by law enforcement officials due to a parole violation.
In exchange for the opportunity to serve his sentence in federal custody and witness protection, Cobb agreed to testify against Mason in a deal with federal authorities.
In his statement, Cobb imitated the sound of gunshots by saying, “Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!” He also alleged that one of the four men had laughed, as reported in PIX11 news.
During Cobb’s trial, a friend of his testified that he drove her past the patrol car of the victim, Byrne, a few hours before the murder and mentioned that he was being paid to commit the heinous crime.
During our visit to South Jamaica on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to speak with a number of locals who had vivid memories of the murder case.
As per one woman, the man only served 34 years in prison, and his crime was simply driving the car. She emphasized that he was not the one who killed the cop; he was only the driver.
While on duty, Byrne was tasked with protecting the residence of a witness whose home had been targeted in a violent firebombing incident. The location of the residence was situated at the intersection of 107th Avenue and Inwood Street in the South Jamaica neighborhood.
During the parole hearings of the four men who were responsible for the killing of NYPD Officer Edward Byrne, Larry Byrne, the officer’s brother, spoke passionately about the impact of their actions. His dedication to justice was unwavering, as he attended every hearing since they became eligible for freedom in 2012. In 2016, before one of the hearings, Byrne expressed the tremendous fear his father had of the possibility of these men being released, and his unwavering determination to prevent it from happening. Byrne’s unwavering commitment to justice for his brother is a true testament to the power of familial love and the importance of seeking justice.
In 2020, Larry Byrne passed away while parole commissioners were working to establish a new protocol that would prioritize an individual’s rehabilitation within the prison system rather than the crime they had committed.
Over the past two decades, the Parole Board has granted release to several dozen individuals who were convicted of killing police officers.
On Tuesday morning, PIX11 News referred to the state database to confirm the status of our Freedom of Information request. The request sought the minutes from Cobb’s parole hearing in July. This step was taken after the Department of Corrections informed us that it would require additional time to process our request.
Upon hearing of Cobb’s release, Jose Saldana, who serves as the director for the RAPP Campaign (Release Aging People in Prison), shared his thoughts on the matter.
Parole is designed to assess an individual’s current state to determine if they are fit for release, with the aim of avoiding indefinite sentencing. The recent decisions made by the Parole Board, based on this principle, are the right ones and bring us closer to achieving justice. It is undeniable that many have committed incredibly serious crimes. However, we believe that every life holds the same value, and the life of a teacher, nurse, or delivery worker is just as precious as that of a police officer. Taking a life is an act of immense harm that cannot be downplayed. Nonetheless, we also value the redemption and transformation of human beings. Every day, people are capable of rehabilitating themselves and those around them. This is why we stand against the notion of permanent punishment.
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