25 years after murder of Officer Wallie Howard: Matt's Memo
Badge #415. That's the shield carried by Syracuse Police Officer Wallie Howard during his nine years on the force. 25 years ago this Friday a group of cocaine dealers conspired to rob Officer Howard of $42,000. In an instant the transaction turned violent. A gun shot from a .357 to the back of his head took the life of this decorated officer and beloved member of the community.
Wallie Howard was assigned to the federal Drug Enforcement Task Force that day. He had connected to a New York City based group of dealers with smaller buys in hopes of reaching higher up the ladder of their organization. Juan Morales, Gary Stewart and Robert 'Bam Bam' Lawrence were there that day. Morales drove the car. Stewart tried to shoot Howard inside the car. Lawrence fired the fatal bullet while standing just outside and behind the passenger window. Jamie Davidson was the head of the operation. He and another man would ultimately be convicted for their part in the conspiracy.
Deputy Chief Becky Thompson was assigned to that same task force. She was Howard's partner. She is the last officer assigned to the multi-agency force to remain on the job. She recently returned to the scene of the shooting along with NBC 3 anchor Matt Mulcahy. She acknowledges she visits the parking lot several times during the year. She comes to contemplate and to remember her friend.
Thompson chokes back emotion when she recalls the rapid fire action of the day. Members of the Task Force were monitoring Officer Howard. He was wearing a wire. Court transcripts recorded the exchange:
Lawrence: Open up the door.
Stewart: Tell me where the money is.
Howard: What money?
Lawrence: Hey, hey, hey ...
Stewart: Hey, don't shut ...
Lawrence: Open the door, man.
Then popping noise from the gun shots are heard.
Officer Howard was shot at 2:24 pm on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. It was October 30, 1990. This Friday at the same time his mother, family, friends and fellow officers will be joined by all of Syracuse in a moment of silence. It is part of Law Enforcement Week as declared by Mayor Stephanie Miner.
We are planning in depth coverage as the week progresses. Stay tuned to CNYCentral.com and NBC 3 for more.