The family of an off-duty New York City police officer slain execution-style in a botched robbery 40 years ago is launching a statewide letter-writing campaign to bar the officer’s paroled killer from any further involvement in crafting policing policy, after learning that he recently helped draft Ithaca’s police reform plan.
Richard Rivera, who was freed two years ago in a disgraceful wave of cop-killer releases approved by the state parole board, was one of a quintet of robbery-minded, masked gunmen who invaded a Queens bar where the officer, Robert Walsh, had stopped on his way home from his tour of duty. The officer identified himself and drew his off-duty weapon but Rivera fired first, getting Officer Walsh in the shoulder. Rivera then walked over to the wounded officer and executed him with a bullet to the head.
The highly decorated 12-year veteran, 36, was the father of four.
Last month, media reports revealed that the cop-killer had been named to the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County “Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative,” an advisory group that crafted proposals to dramatically transform the Ithaca Police Department.
In a statement, the martyred officer’s children called Rivera’s appointment to the panel “disrespectful to our father’s legacy” and “another painful tragedy for our family … We demand that he be barred from any further involvement in any police reform plan or policing policies going forward.”
To press their demand, the Walsh family has launched an online letter-writing campaign encouraging New Yorkers to contact Ithaca’s mayor and Common Council, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo. See the family’s Facebook page for the campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/removeriverafrompolicereform
New York City Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J, Lynch also slammed Rivera’s appointment:
“It’s 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? 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 Walsh family’s complete statement:
“Our family is completely outraged and heartbroken that our father’s killer, Richard Rivera, has not only been released but was selected to be a part of the ‘Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative’ that drafted Ithaca and Tompkins County’s police reform plan. We want to make it known that his appointment to this panel was absolutely disrespectful to our father’s legacy and represents another painful tragedy for our family. His involvement dishonors not only our father but ALL of law enforcement. We demand that he be barred from any further involvement in any police reform plan or policing policies going forward.
“We cannot believe that such a misguided and irresponsible choice was made. It is an absolute outrage that anyone even broached the idea of appointing Rivera. That it came to fruition is despicable!
“We urge Governor Andrew Cuomo, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick and the Ithaca Common Council to ban Rivera from having any further role in shaping policing policies. It’s already a nightmare for our family that he has been released from prison after purposely executing our father. Seeing him play a role in police ‘reform’ only continues the nightmare.”