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November 4, 2023, 7:05 PM

NYPD cop killer freed by parole board despite execution-style murder as family fumes: ‘My brother’s never coming home’

By Tina Moore

A cold-blooded killer who murdered a cop execution-style outside a Queens nightclub will be a free man by the end of November — despite the heinous nature of his crime, the Post has learned.

Police Officer Paul Heidelberger was 28 when he was shot to death outside a Bayside, Queens, nightclub while off duty in 1992. 

His killer, Patrick Bannon, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison but the state parole board granted his release in October and he’ll be freed this month — making him the 38th convicted cop killer sprung in New York since 2017, records show.

“When he walks out of the prison gates, will my brother walk in and say, ‘Hey, I’m home?'” asked Heidelberger’s older sister, Anne Fullam.

“No. My brother’s never coming home.” 

“This man, supposedly, has a child,” Fullam said.

“Paul never got the chance to be a father.”

Cops said her brother was out with friends on July 18 when he was shot after breaking up a fight and escorting people to their cars on Bell Boulevard.

Bannon, a 25-year-old weight-lifter and bouncer from one of the clubs, was in a Lincoln Town car when he fired a 9-millimeter handgun at Heidelberger’s group, striking three men, including the cop, who was shot in the neck.

Bannon then walked up to Heidelberger and shot him in the head.

“He came back and picked up my brother by his hair and shot him again in the head while Paul was pleading for his life and saying he’s a cop,” Fullam said through tears.

“And every time I think about that, it’s just, it’s extremely hard for me.”

One of the other two men struck by the gunfire also died.

Bannon, who was fingered by witnesses, took off, prompting a manhunt.

Then-Mayor David Dinkins offered a $10,000 reward.

Six weeks later, Bannon surrendered at the Queens district attorney’s office.

The cop’s sister, the oldest of seven children who grew up in Queens Village, thought his arrest was the end.

“I had hoped he would never, ever get out because of the way he killed my brother,” Fullam said.

Bannon, 56, had two prior meetings with the parole board but his release was rejected until now.

“He was doing this that and the other thing in prison, good things supposedly, but what about Paul? What about the good things that he did?” the sister asked. 

The board typically considers a prisoner’s time behind bars and how much of a risk they are to society.

Law enforcement sources said the surge in freeing cop killers is due in large part to a revision in 2017 to the rules governing how the 17-member parole board weighs a prisoner’s release, thanks to years of lobbying by prison reformers and legal groups.

The board uses a “risk and needs assessment” score that considers an inmate’s age and record while in prison more than the initial crime, a source said.

PBA President Patrick Hendry railed against Bannon’s release.

“No sane New Yorker supports the release of this barbaric cop-killer,” Hendry said.

“But the parole board does, because they value a murderer’s life more than the life of a hero police officer.”

He said new measures being pushed by lawmakers now would “further weaken the parole standards” that have seen more and more cop killers released.