New York, NY – The family of a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer who was executed during a robbery is furious that his killer has been given a seat on a police reform advisory panel.
“We’re completely shocked that the man who murdered my father is being trusted to create police reforms,” one of the sons of late NYPD Officer Robert Walsh told the New York Post through a representative.
“My father dedicated his life to serving and protecting New Yorkers,” Robert Walsh Jr. said. “He should be the one serving on a panel to help reimagine policing, but he’ll never get that chance.”
Officer Walsh was a highly-decorated, 12-year veteran of the NYPD on Jan. 12, 1981 when 16-year-old Richard Rivera and four accomplices in masks tried to rob the BVD Bar and Grill in Maspeth, the New York Post reported.
The officer – who was off-duty and wearing a cowboy hat inside the bar at the time – identified himself as a police officer and started to draw his weapon.
But Rivera shot Officer Walsh in the shoulder, knocking the officer to the ground, the New York Post reported.
Then he stood over the wounded officer, pressed his gun to Officer Walsh’s head, and shot him again.
A police official told the New York Post at the time that the officer’s murder was a coldblooded “execution.”
Rivera spent 39 years in prison after he was convicted of Officer Walsh’s murder.
He was released in 2019, according to the New York Post.
Rivera said he has been working for a non-profit that provides shelter and food to the homeless since he was released.
And he was awarded a seat on the Ithaca and Tompkins County police reform advisory group as part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative’’ that every police department in the state is required to adopt, the New York Post reported.
Municipalities were required to establish the advisory groups by April 1st under the mandate.
“I know people are going to be critical,’’ Rivera told the New York Post when he was asked how people would feel about him being on a police reform panel.
“I don’t know if [Walsh’s] family would find this acceptable,’’ the convicted cop-killer said. “I can’t control that. What I can control is the way I’ve been living my life.”
“I’m holding the memory of Officer Walsh to the highest standard of policing in terms of a protector to the community, somebody who cares for the community,” Rivera told the New York Post.
Robert Walker Jr. said that his family was shocked and disgusted that Rivera had been given a spot on the advisory group.
NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Pat Lynch agreed with the family’s assessment, the Daily Mail reported.
“It’s outrageous and despicable,” Lynch said. “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?”
“The entire process has trampled on the ideals that police officers like Robert Walsh upheld. It’s the ultimate disrespect to his service and sacrifice,” the union boss added.
“Talk about the fox guarding the hen house,” an NYPD source told The Police Tribune.
“How does this panel and in turn, all panels have any legitimacy when you have someone who murdered a police officer in cold blood sitting on it?” he asked.
The NYPD veteran officer also expressed concern to The Police Tribune that placing a well-known convicted cop killer on an advisory group could “have a chilling effect for any victims who wish to give statements in support of police but now won’t, because they don’t know if their panel has a victimizer as well.”
“Is the next step having convicted rapists sitting on panels to better handle sexual assaults?” he asked.