NEW YORK (AP) — A drug dealer known on the streets as Peanut was convicted on Monday of murder in the shooting death of a police officer.
Tyrone Howard, who also was found guilty of robbery and a weapons charge, faces life in prison without parole when he's sentenced next month. A jury deliberated over four days before deciding Howard, 32, knew he was firing on a police officer.
Officer Randolph Holder, 33, was shot when he and his partner approached Howard, who was on a stolen a bicycle, on Oct. 20, 2015, prosecutors said.
Holder's partner, Omar Wallace, testified that he recognized Howard from a drug arrest a year earlier and approached him in a non-confrontational way. Howard jumped off the bike so fast Wallace thought he was going to run. But, instead, he yanked a semi-automatic handgun from his sweatshirt and opened fire, authorities said.
"The first shot hit Officer Holder on the right side of his head," Wallace testified. "He fell immediately."
Jurors watched camera footage of the chaotic scene that unfolded on a footbridge over the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive as officers raced to help their colleague. Officers carried Holder to a waiting van, which took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Howard was arrested not far from the scene, the New York Police Department said.
"The NYPD is pleased to learn that justice has been served by today's verdict," police Commissioner James O'Neill said.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said, "Let us not forget that, although we have gotten justice at this juncture, that when this family goes home they realize their son is still not in that house. It doesn't fix it."
Howard didn't attend some of the jury deliberations because he wanted to catch up on his sleep, prosecutors said last week. Howard's attorney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Howard had five convictions for drug dealing and another for armed robbery. He was out on bail and had been ordered to enter a drug treatment program on his most recent drug case when he became embroiled in a gunfight with rival dealers before he hopped on the bicycle and sped off, eventually encountering Holder and Wallace, authorities said.
Holder always wanted to be a police officer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who served as officers in their native Guyana. Holder's dream came true in 2010, when he joined the NYPD and began patrolling the city's public housing complexes.
"It's in his blood," his commanding officer, Capt. Reymundo Mundo, said at his funeral. "It's in his genes."