Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Monday, April 23, 2007

Assembly Minority Members Seek Death Penalty For Cop Killers
Murder of Utica Police Officer Thomas Lindsey Highlights Need for "Ultimate Punishment"

Assembly Minority members were joined today by Senator Joseph Griffo, law enforcement officials and families of police officers slain in the line of duty to call for the return of capital punishment for those convicted of murdering police officers or correctional officials.

Recent killings of police officers across the state underscore the need for the death penalty for cop killers as both a deterrent and punishment.

Utica Police Officer Thomas Lindsey was shot and killed during a traffic stop on April 12, 2007. In March 2006, New York State Trooper Andrew Sperr was killed in the town of Big Flats, near Elmira, when he stopped a vehicle containing bank robbery suspects. Also in 2006, fugitive Ralph "Bucky" Phillips murdered New York State Trooper Joseph Longobardo and injured State Troopers Donald Baker Jr. and Sean Brown. Between 2002 and 2006, 13 police officers in New York State were killed in the line of duty.

"If the punishment is truly meant to fit the crime, we must examine what we're doing when we leave criminals to live their lives after they take someone else's," said Assemblyman David R. Townsend, Jr. (R,C,I,WF-Sylvan Beach). "If there's anything we can learn from the sacrifices of Officers Joseph Corr and Tom Lindsey, State Trooper Andrew Sperr and other members of our brave law enforcement community, it's that the only kind of justice we can provide their loved ones comes after they've already given their lives. It's time to bring the death penalty back, which my legislation will do."

"There must be the ultimate penalty for those individuals who callously and heinously take a life, especially the life of those who serve on the front lines to protect the rest of us," said Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga).

"There is no question that capital punishment is a necessary and useful tool in the war against crime. The recent tragedies that our community has faced have only served to heighten our awareness of its need," said Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R,C-47). "Those who would have the audacity to murder a police officer in cold blood must know that when caught and convicted they will face the ultimate consequence."

"As a Police Chief who had a police officer shot and killed in the line of duty, I know first-hand the incredible impact on the community, the family and the police officers a death like this has," said Chief Raymond Philo of the New Hartford Police Department. "Death is the great uncertainty of life, and that is why people fear it. Death is the ultimate deterrent, and that is why I support the death penalty in certain cases, including for the murder of on-duty law enforcement officers."

"Officers Corr and Lindsey were good, decent cops, great kids and are to be commended for returning to their birthplaces to work and live," said Philip Taurisano, Commissioner of the City of Utica Dept. of Public Safety. "They were pillars of society, and it is imperative that their memories never be forgotten. I urge the State of New York to implement the death penalty as punishment for killing a police officer. These heinous actions must be punished to the fullest extent, and the death penalty is the only option."

"These men were dedicated, energetic, honorable and community-oriented. Their memory and honor is something that should never be forgotten," said Utica Mayor Timothy J. Julian. "I truly believe that the State of New York should honor these fallen heroes by enacting legislation that will make the killing of a police officer punishable by the death penalty. It is only in this way that we will justly be able to honor their memories."

In 1995, the Legislature and former Governor Pataki reinstated the death penalty in New York. Under this statute, cop killers could receive the death penalty. The state's highest court ruled parts of this statute unconstitutional in 2004, effectively killing the death penalty here.

Assembly Minority legislation (A.6605 and A.6007) would remedy the Court of Appeals' decision by mandating that those convicted of first degree murder be unanimously sentenced by a jury to death, life imprisonment without parole or a minimum sentence of between 20 and 25 years. Similar legislation was defeated by Assembly in 2005 and 2006. Assembly Minority members want all members to have an opportunity to vote on these important public safety measures.

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Minority Press Releases ]