A cop killer who murdered a New York City police officer in 1973 has been granted parole and will be released in July, the New York Post reported.
Robert Hayes, a member of the Black Liberation Army, opened fire on Officer Sidney Thompson as he tried to arrest him and another BLA member for jumping a subway turnstile at an uptown station.
“My husband was killed for 15 cents,” said Joyce Thompson, 68, referring to the price of a subway ride at the time of her husband’s murder. Joyce Thompson received the letter June 15 informing her of Hayes’ parole.
“It just broke my heart,” she said.
After the shootout that killed Thompson, Hayes fled and was in hiding for almost four months when NYPD officers reportedly found him at a BLA safe house in the Bronx. Hayes fired on the pursuing officers with a sawed-off shotgun, injuring two of them in the shootout.
Hayes was convicted of Thompson’s murder in March 1974; he was the first Black Liberation Army member to be found guilty of murder in New York State, according to a story on the trial in the New York Daily News. He was sentenced to 35 years to life.
“So what does this mean, if you killed a cop and you live long enough, you’re gonna get out?” Thompson’s outraged son, Steven, 51, asked The Post. “He should die in jail.”
“Life means life,” said Thompson of Hayes’ 1974 sentence.
Steven Thompson was 6 years old when Hayes killed his father. He joined the NYPD in 1990, according to the Post, and wore his father’s shield – No. 3801. He quit the force in 1996, however, after two officers were killed in the line of duty in the Bronx. He is outraged that neither of those officers’ murders led to the death penalty for the offenders.
“That showed to me that police officers’ lives mean nothing,” he said.
"My husband was killed for 15 cents.”
Hayes, in an exclusive interview from jail with the New York Post on Friday, said he plans a simple life and will focus on growing vegetables and raising chickens in upstate New York.
“I just want to do good,” Hayes, 69, said. “I promise repentance.”
“Had I thought about it, I would have made better decisions,” he said.
The news of Hayes’ release comes two months after another former BLA member and cop killer, Herman Bell, 70, was released on parole after serving 47 years of a possible life sentence for the 1971 murders of two NYPD officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have protested the release of inmates convicted of killing police officers.
“Murdering a police officer in cold blood is a crime beyond the frontiers of rehabilitation or redemption,” de Blasio reportedly wrote to the board regarding Bell’s release.
Eddie Matos and Anthony Bottom, two other NYPD cop killers, are also due for parole hearings this year.