If there is one place a convicted cop killer should not be, it’s on a police reform advisory panel. And yet, that’s exactly where we find Richard Rivera, the man who fatally shot NYPD police officer Robert Walsh execution style in 1981.
Rivera is currently serving on an advisory group panel for Ithaca and Tompkins County, the “Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative,” which was formed after Gov. Andrew Cuomo tasked municipalities with turning in police reform plans by April 1, a move that came in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Rivera was 16 years old when he and four other gun-toting teens donned masks and strolled into the BVD Bar and Grill in Maspeth just after midnight Jan. 12, 1981, looking to rob the joint.
Officer Walsh, a 36-year-old highly decorated cop with 12 years on the force, was inside wearing a cowboy hat hanging out after his shift.
What unfolded next was nothing short of a coldblooded “execution,’’ a police official said in a front-page Post article at the time.
As the hero off-duty officer identified himself as a cop and reached for his gun to try to stop the robbery, Rivera shot him in the shoulder. Rivera then walked over to the officer as he lay helplessly wounded on the floor, pressed his gun to the cop’s head and blasted him again, authorities said.
“I guess it was just something he felt like doing,’’ the police official said of Rivera.
The teenage killer spent 39 years behind bars for the cold-blooded killing, before being released in 2019. (New York Post)
Rivera acknowledged Walsh’s family may have a problem with him serving, but, claiming to have turned his life around since then, he said it’s how he plans to honor Walsh’s memory.
“I know people are going to be critical,’’ Rivera, now a homeless advocate, told the Post.
“I don’t know if [Walsh’s] family would find this acceptable,’’ he said. “I can’t control that. What I can control is the way I’ve been living my life.
“I’m holding the memory of Officer Walsh to the highest standard of policing in terms of a protector to the community, somebody who cares for the community.”
Needless to say, Walsh's family and many others are none too pleased.
“We’re completely shocked that the man who murdered my father is being trusted to create police reforms,” Walsh’s son, Robert Walsh Jr., told the Post. “My father dedicated his life to serving and protecting New Yorkers. He should be the one serving on a panel to help reimagine policing, but he’ll never get that chance.”
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James McDermott was just as outraged.
If Rivera "wants to honor police officer Walsh, he should step down, recuse himself and not have anything to do with it [the committee.] That would satisfy the family and the law enforcement community,” McDermott told Fox News. "What will you come up with next to insult us and insult everyone? It’s not just police officers that look at this and say this is a travesty, it’s everyone. The public believes that too."