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'The ultimate disrespect'
Richard Rivera murdered an NYPD cop execution-style in 1981. Now he has been recruited to sit on a panel tasked with coming up with police reform plans in New York.
Naturally, the family of the murdered cop as well as New York police are not thrilled.
What did Rivera do?
Rivera was convicted of the Jan. 12, 1981, murder of NYPD Officer Robert Walsh and spent 39 years in prison for his crime, the New York Post reported.
The killer was 16 years old when he a four other armed teenagers attempted to rob the BVD Bar and Grill in Queens.
Walsh, a 36-year-old cop with 12 years of service, was off-duty and at the bar when the gun-toting teens attempted their heist. The Post explained what happened next:
As the hero off-duty officer identified himself as a cop and reached for his gun to try to stop the robbery, Rivera shot him in the shoulder. Rivera then walked over to the officer as he lay helplessly wounded on the floor, pressed his gun to the cop's head and blasted him again, authorities said.
Rivera was released in 2019 and told the Post that he has since been working with a nonprofit to provide food and shelter for the homeless.
Blowback for police-reform panel
Rivera is now sitting on a panel for Ithaca and Tompkins County, the Post said, that is designed to help plan police reform in upstate New York, as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative executive order that was signed in the wake of George Floyd's death.
The order requires each local government to come up with a plan “that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input" by April 1. “If you don't do it, local government, you won't get any state funding. Period," Cuomo said, according to the Post. “You have to pass a law with your redesigned police force."
Rivera told the Post that he expected people to be critical.
He was right.
Officer Walsh's son, Robert Walsh Jr., told the paper, "We're completely shocked that the man who murdered my father is being trusted to create police reforms. My father dedicated his life to serving and protecting New Yorkers. He should be the one serving on a panel to help reimagine policing, but he'll never get that chance."
The president of the police union told the Post that putting Rivera on the reform panel is "outrageous and despicable."
"Not only did this cop-killer get paroled, but now he gets a seat at the table to help dismantle a police department. Did anybody expect him to be fair and open-minded in his review?" Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said.
"The entire process has trampled on the ideals that police officers like Robert Walsh upheld," Lynch added. "It's the ultimate disrespect to his service and sacrifice."
The Post said the panel Rivera is serving on did not respond to requests for comment.
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