NEW YORK — A man who fatally shot a New York City transit police officer with her own gun in 1984 was quietly released from prison earlier this month by the New York State Board of Parole, after serving 36 years behind bars.
At 25 years old, Officer Irma Lozada was the first female cop to die in New York City in the line of duty.
On the day she was killed, Lozada was working for Transit District 33 in plainclothes, riding the L train in Brooklyn and looking for chain snatchers. Back then, the New York City Transit Police Department was a separate agency from the NYPD.
The release of the man who shot her, Darryl Jeter, 56, sparked outrage among members of the Police Benevolent Association, who noted Lozada’s murder was “a tragic piece of New York City history.”
“Jeter is at least the 23rd cop-killer released by the Parole Board in under two years,” the union wrote in a statement Sunday morning.
On Sept. 21, 1984 — which was Jeter’s 19th birthday — Lozada and her partner reportedly saw Jeter snatch a chain from someone’s neck on the L line in Brooklyn, at the Wilson Avenue stop.
Lozada and her partner started chasing the thief, and the two cops became separated.
Lozada caught up with Jeter on her own, and she was shot twice in the head with her police-issued gun during the struggle that followed. Her body wasn’t found for three hours, recovered in the tall weeds and garbage of a vacant lot in Bushwick.
Jeter was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 32.5 years to life in prison. He was rejected for parole at least twice before winning his freedom in early December.
“The release of her killer is a blow to every cop who puts her life on the line to stop criminals from preying on innocent New Yorkers,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch in the union’s statement on Sunday. “We continue to urge [Gov. Kathy Hochul] and the state Legislature to fix our broken parole system before another hero’s sacrifice is dishonored.”
Our sister station WPIX-TV has been reporting on the release of inmates convicted of killing police officers for years.
Former parole commissioner Carol Shapiro spoke with WPIX not long after the 2018 release of Herman Bell at age 70. Bell spent 45 years in prison for the double assassination of NYPD patrolmen Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini in 1971 — an act committed with other members of the Black Liberation Army.
“For many of the older people in prison, their crime happened in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Shapiro had said. “They may have been in their younger teens or 20’s.”
Shapiro had suggested there should be a litmus test for parole board members.
“Can they look beyond the original crime? Can they look beyond the politics?” she asked.
When Jeter shot Lozada twice in the head, he was already on parole for an attempted robbery in 1983 when he was 17.
Lozada served with the New York City Transit Police Department for four years, after working three years as an auxiliary police officer.