October 26, 2020

A Cop-Killer Faces A Parole Board | Cup of Joe

A Cop-Killer Faces A Parole Board

This week’s Cup of Joe will not take place in a courtroom; it will take place in a Parole Board Hearing room in New York City.

But first, we have to go back to 1994, and talk about Sean McDonald, who became the first on-duty New York City police officer to be killed that year. He had been guarding a condemned building on the corner of Edward L. Grant Highway and Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx when he walked to a nearby tailor shop. Inside, he was confronted by two robbers who shot him at least five times. He died a short time later at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. 

Officer McDonald grew up in Astoria. He went to Aviation High School in Queens, and eventually joined the United States Army, serving in the 34th Armored Infantry Division from August 1985 to August 1989. He was 26 years old when he was killed.

The two men arrested on charges of murder were identified as Rodolfo Rodriguez, 20, and Javier Miranda, 27, both of Washington Heights. Officer McDonald killers were arrested and convicted of killing. 

Javier Miranda, was sentenced to go to prison for 25 years to life.  Miranda appeared before the Parole Board for an interview seeking to be released from prison and be placed on parole.

How A Prisoner Prepares For The Parole Board Interview

The inmate must:

  • Be able to discuss an aspects of and accept responsibility for the crime they were convicted of. (If  the inmate plans to maintain innocence of the crime, it is very possible parole will be denied).
  • Be able to discuss positive things about serving their term in prison.
  • Be able to discuss their future with realistic goals in mind.
  • Be prepared to show their sincerity without displaying extreme emotions.
  • Think before they speak but don't sound rehearsed; answer questions briefly but completely.
  • It may be helpful to have letters of recommendation.

Javier Miranda Interview:

BOARD: Good morning, Mr. Miranda. 

JM: Good morning, sir.

BOARD: So this all began back in 1994, in the Bronx. You and a friend were riding in a black Isuzu that had recently been bought by you, parked on Nelson Avenue near West 172d Street and walked a block south to Filo Fashions. That was with Rodriguez, correct?

JM:  Yes, sir.

BOARD:  According to the record, nearby store owners said the shop has been owned for two years by Israel and Filomena Peguero, who lived nearby. The couple were known to be hard-working Dominicans in their mid-30s. You, sir, carried a pair of handcuffs and Rodriguez had a .38-caliber revolver. You both entered the shop about 7:20 P.M., tied up the couple in a small back room where they worked at sewing machines and took $70 and a ring from them.

Officer McDonald entered the store, and while one of you was being frisked, the other shot the officer. Each of you maintain that the other shot the officer -- four times.

The fatally wounded officer stumbled into the street, before he fell into a pool of water in the gutter. You and Rodriguez ran by the wounded officer and left him there. The officer was found by two sanitation officers and taken to Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died.

JM: I did not shoot the officer, sir.

BOARD: Officer McDonald had a wife, Janet; a 3-year-old son, and a 1-year-old daughter. Would you like to respond further?

JM: There was a picture in the paper of the officer’s wife sitting on a cemetery bench, holding her child’s hand. And I’ve always remembered it. It still haunts me. The Board must recognize that I am a different person. I have accepted responsibility for my actions, I have expressed remorse. My behavior records indicate clearly that I now conducts himself as a model prisoner.

JM’s ATTORNEY: The record contains substantial evidence that Mr. Miranda underwent a transformation while in prison. He has accepted responsibility for his actions, expresses remorse, has significant accomplishments and conducts himself as a model prisoner. I would also like to submit a letter from the Bronx District Attorney’s office that indicated the District Attorney’s office, in fact, did not officially oppose Mr. Miranda’s parole.

The Parole Board's Decision

Parole is DENIED to Javier Miranda.

The Board was troubled that Mr. Miranda’s commentary during his interview focused heavily on restating his accomplishments, even when the Board was trying to elicit statements of remorse. Moreover, the Parole Board had concerns because Mr. Miranda’s current account of the crime differed from that in the initial report provided by Miranda when he was first processed.

Miranda’s attorney brought the Board’s decision for review by the court.  The only way the court could overturn the Board’s decision was if it was arbitrary and capricious.

The Court's Decision

The Board’s Decision STANDS. The fact that the Bronx DA’s Office did not give an official letter opposing Mr. Miranda’s parole does not change the outcome here in light of the other factors. The Board characterized Miranda’s statements as troubling. The transcript of the interview reflects this characterization.

Miranda’s Application for Parole is DENIED


Officer Anthony Reyes had not known Officer McDonald long. He himself wasonly three weeks out of the police academy. But he said that Officer McDonald's shooting had brought the precinct closer together, and forced young rookies like himself to contemplate the danger of the work he had chosen.

You can visit the New York City’s PBA's website, and help keep all cop killers behind bars: www.nycpba.org/community/keep-cop-killers-in-jail/

Click HERE to read the full case.

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