Commissioners who freed cop killer to hear Nassau case

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The same randomly picked parole commissioners who ignited outrage when they ordered a New York City cop killer freed last week are considering whether to release a man who murdered a Nassau County police officer.

That hearing is scheduled for this week.

Last Thursday's ruling in favor of releasing Shuaib Raheem came in a 2-1 ruling, with parole commissioners Debra Loomis and Thomas Grant voting in favor of letting Raheem out.

In the MacKenzie case, a third parole commissioner, Mary Ross, will also vote with Loomis and Grant.

The statewide parole board has 16 members but considers bids for release in panels of three. A third commissioner, Henry Lemons, voted against Raheem but releasing an inmate requires only a majority.

Raheem was convicted of fatally shooting NYPD Officer Stephen Gilroy, 29, in a botched store robbery in 1973. He has served almost 38 years in prison.

For the Nassau case, Loomis and Grant were also randomly selected to do the parole hearings at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, the upstate prison where John MacKenzie is serving his 25-years-to-life prison sentence in the second-degree murder of Patrolman Matthew Giglio in 1975.

Marc Violette, a parole spokesman, declined to comment for this story.

MacKenzie, 63, has been rejected five times for parole since he became eligible for consideration in 2005. He has served nearly 35 years. Raheem had been rejected six previous times before being granted release last Thursday.

But unlike Raheem, who racked up disciplinary write-ups in prison for making threats, creating a disturbance and assault, prisons spokeswoman Linda Foglia said, MacKenzie has a clean prison record free of any misbehavior, which works in an inmate's favor before parole boards.

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Giglio's family, elected officials and the Nassau police officers union have vociferously opposed paroling MacKenzie, calling his release a dishonor to Giglio's memory. Opponents say anyone who has killed a police officer should not go free. But MacKenzie counters that he's a changed man and points to good deeds in prison, the earning of a college degree and his mentoring other prisoners.

Outrage from Gilroy's loved ones and the New York City police union followed the announcement last week that Raheem would be released from prison.

In the past, the state division of parole has been sued by prisoners claiming that the boards are rubber-stamping denials on the most serious felonies. The state has asserted it has the right to reject parole in certain cases.

Robert N. Isseks, a Middletown-based attorney who filed the litigation in both state and federal court, said the division is categorically and illegally denying parole in those cases.

The suits are pending.

Grant and Loomis' terms are to expire next week.

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