SYRACUSE, .N.Y. — As part of 143 pardons and commutations issued before he left office, President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Jaime A. Davidson who served nearly 29 years in prison in connection to the murder of Syracuse Police Officer Wallie Howard Jr. in 1990.
Officer Howard, 31, was shot and killed in the line of duty on Oct. 30, 1990, by Robert "Bam Bam" Lawrence.
When Officer Howard was killed, he was working undercover for the DEA during a drug buy in the parking lot of Mario's Big M Supermarket on Syracuse's southside.
As a 15-year-old, Lawrence was recruited by Davidson to be in a drug gang trafficking cocaine to Syracuse.
In 1993, Davidson was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in connection to Howard's murder.
In announcing Davidson's commutation, the White House said "although Mr. Davidson has been incarcerated for nearly 29 years, the admitted shooter has already been released from prison."
In late October 2020, nearly 30 years to the day of Howard's murder, Lawrence was released on parole.
Following the commutation of his sentence, the White House said Davidson will continue legal efforts to clear his name.
In addition, while incarcerated, Davidson mentored and tutored more than 1,000 prisoners to help them achieve their GED certificates.
Davidson has earned praise from prison officials for his dedication to helping others, according to the commutation statement from the White House.
Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner said he was "very disappointed" with Davidson's commuted sentence. “We respect the president's right to pardon individuals for their crimes," he said. "However, we are very disappointed he has now received a commutation of his sentence. My heart goes out to the Howard family, and the men and women of SPD who have suffered a significant loss.”
Syracuse PBA President Joseph Moran said he is also disappointed with the commutation. "During a time when police are under such scrutiny, this is another blow to the law enforcement profession," he said. "The commutation of Davidson, along with the release of Robert "Bam Bam' Lawrence, has reopened wounds at SPD and for the Howard family. We are deeply saddened by this decision."