Trooper Dillon's killer set for release

John Ruzas and another man had just robbed a jewelry store in DeWitt. As they were speeding down the thruway near Canastota, trooper Emerson Dillon pulled the car over. That's when Ruzas shot and killed trooper Dillon. Ruzas was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

When State Trooper Emerson Dillon approached a car he stopped along the thruway near Canastota in 1974, he had no way of knowing what one of the men inside was capable of.

"He was just doing his job and he didn't know that this was a robber and soon-to-be murderer," Francis Coots, retired New York State Police Troop D Commander, said.

John Ruzas shot trooper Dillon in the chest.

43 years later a parole board is setting him free.

The decision is viewed as a betrayal to Dillon's family, and members of law enforcement like Coots.

"He can still enjoy the company of his wife and other family members, and it looks like on Monday he's going to be able to spend Christmas with them. Of course Trooper Dillon will never be able to spend another Christmas with his family, only his memories," Coots said.

In an effort to stop his release, the Troopers Police Benevolent Association (PBA) filed a lawsuit in hopes to get the parole board's decision thrown out.

PBA president Thomas Mungeer argues the board wasn't able to equally consider both sides.

"What I'm upset about is that a judge in Dutchess County ruled that the parole board was not able to see my letter of opposition and the letters of the law enforcement community, and other letters from citizens across the state and country," Mungeer said.

Mungeer says for his previous attempts at parole, opposition letters were coming in from all over, which didn't surprise him or retired commander Coots.

"And we want to think if something bad should happen to any of us, you know prior to my retirement, is that someone would be standing behind me saying let's not forget whomever who gave his life for the service of the public," Mungeer said.

Part of the lawsuit will be heard on Friday.

If nothing changes, Ruzas could be released as early as next week.

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