A man charged in the fatal shooting of a New York City police officer was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a prior drug offense on Thursday by a judge who said in court Mayor Bill de Blasio should “look in a mirror” before blaming others for the officer’s death.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Patricia Nunez imposed the maximum sentence allowed on Tyrone Howard, 31, after he failed to comply with a court-mandated drug treatment program that allowed him to avoid incarceration.
During the sentencing hearing, Nunez sharply criticized de Blasio, a Democrat, for suggesting she had erred in initially allowing Howard to go to drug rehabilitation.
“I would suggest that the mayor look into a mirror and ask himself whether it’s his own policies, whether those policies made someone think they can go out and shoot a cop,” the judge said. She did not specify the policies to which she was referring.
A spokeswoman for the mayor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Howard is charged with killing 33-year-old Officer Randolph Holder on Oct. 20.
At the time, Howard was wanted for questioning in an unrelated shooting as well as for skipping a September court appearance before Nunez.
In May, Nunez approved a deal under which Howard pleaded guilty to a 2014 charge of selling crack cocaine, in exchange for two years of drug treatment. The judge oversees one of several “drug courts” in New York that allow nonviolent drug offenders to undergo treatment rather than face prison.
Following Holder’s death, de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton questioned the decision by Nunez and another judge who had transferred Howard’s case to the drug court, saying Howard should have been behind bars.
Nunez said on Thursday those comments created a “false narrative,” pointing out that Howard was already free on bail.
Howard, she said, had no prior violent felony convictions and was similar to many defendants who have succeeded in the diversion program. But Howard had “thrown away with both hands” the second chance she had given him, Nunez said.
“Yesterday, you received mercy,” Nunez told Howard. “Today, you receive justice.”
Howard is scheduled to be arraigned on a separate murder indictment later this month in connection with Holder’s killing.
Holder was the fourth New York City police officer killed in the line of duty in the past year.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham)