November 6, 2009
Uphold Withdrawal Of Parole for Cop-Killer After Family Objects
By ARI PAUL
An appellate court panel has upheld an Albany County Supreme Court ruling that the state’s Board of Parole was within its rights to reconsider the parole of a convicted copkiller after hearing new testimony from the victim’s family members.
Shauaib Raheem was convicted for fatally shooting 29-year-old Police Officer Stephen Gilroy in the head during a robbery-turned-hostage-situation in a Brooklyn sporting goods store in 1973. The board granted him parole in November 2007 on grounds that he had received several college degrees while in prison, had been active in the prison’s Youth Assistance Program and the fact that one of his co-defendants had been released 10 years earlier.
Victim’s Family Swayed Board
After allowing Mr. Gilroy’s widow and two of the hostages to recount their experiences since 1973, the board ordered a hearing for the following February to reconsider Mr. Raheem’s release upon hearing the new testimony. Mr. Raheem sued, arguing that the board was acting outside of its jurisdiction, which the Albany court rejected.
“Therefore, as these statutes and regulations are intended to facilitate the right of victims to be heard, limited only by practical considerations, they should not be interpreted so as to preclude victims from exercising the rights that they are meant to promote,” Judge Edward Spain of the Appellate Court for the Third Department said in a decision issued Oct. 29.
Judge Spain noted that the board had “the discretionary authority to rescind or modify any of its decisions,” and noted that while the law “contemplates that victim impact statements will precede parole determinations, it also provides that [the Board of Parole] may waive any filing deadlines or other limitations on the victims’ right to be heard so as to ‘ensur[e] that crime victims are treated with fairness, sensitivity and dignity.’ ’’
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch hailed the ruling.
“This is an important decision for victims’ rights in New York State that says the parole board must consider victims’ impact statements from those who had not had an opportunity to speak regardless of time,” he said in a statement. “This decision closes another legal loophole through which a cop-killer tried to pass. We believe that convicted cop killers should, at very least, spend the rest of their natural lives behind bars and that even then, they are getting far better than they gave or deserve.”