Man Convicted in Murder of Officer Whose Death Set Off War on Drugs

From Associated Press

A getaway car driver was convicted of second-degree murder Wednesday in the killing of a rookie policeman whose death helped set the national agenda in the war on drugs.

Scott Cobb, 25, also was convicted of weapons charges for his role in the death of Officer Edward Byrne, 22, who was shot five times on Feb. 26, 1988, while he sat in his patrol car guarding the home of a witness in a drug case.

Byrne’s shooting became an issue in last year’s presidential election when his father, Matthew Byrne, presented then-Vice President George Bush with his son’s police shield.

Bush, who said it was the most emotional moment of the campaign for him, showed the shield to audiences around the country when he spoke about the need to crack down on illegal drugs.


Cobb shook his head as he listened to the jury announce its verdict after two days of deliberations in state court. Judge Thomas Demakos set sentencing for April 24. Cobb faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison on the murder charge.

Cobb’s attorney, Michael Fishman, said he would file an appeal after sentencing.

Meanwhile, a second jury was considering the same charges against Todd Scott, 20, and Philip Copeland, 23. Two juries were required because Scott and Cobb implicated one another in videotaped statements made after their arrests.

Prosecutors charged that the three defendants, along with another man, David McClary, executed Byrne on directions issued from Rikers Island by jailed drug lord Howard Mason.


Prosecutors said Mason ordered the slaying in retaliation for his conviction and imprisonment on a weapons charge earlier the same week.