Police Officer Byrne was on detail protecting a witness who had agreed to testify in court against local drug dealers. Officer Byrne was in his patrol car outside the witness’ home when two armed gunmen crept up to his car from both sides. One of the men knocked on the passenger-side window to distract Officer Byrne as a second perpetrator ran up to the driver’s side window and, without uttering a sound, opened fire. Officer Byrne was shot five times in the head. He was rushed to a local where he succumbed to his injuries. Officer Byrne was only 22 years old.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matter Lawrence Byrne, the brother of Edward Byrne, Police Commissioner James O’Neill, and Patrick Lynch spoke to those in attendance, which included community council members, FDNY firefighters and hundreds of officers.
“I want to thank you on behalf of the Byrne family for gathering here for the 29th time and I want to thank you on behalf of our NYPD family for coming together on another cold evening,” said Deputy Commissioner Byrne.
“To make this city so much safer than it was in 1988 is nothing short of extraordinary and incredible. You’ve done an amazing job and there can be no greater tribute to Eddie than the drive to fight down crime.”
Tributes like this are one of the many ways we remember the too many fallen Finest. Plaques hang in precincts so stories of heroics can be remembered and shared with new officers. Streets are renamed throughout New York City to encourage communities members to never forget the sacrifices made by those who serve them, and vigils are held so we can be sure their memories go on.