Tyrone Howard, the man suspected of murdering NYPD Officer Randolph Holder earlier this week, was sent to a rehab facility in lieu of jail five months before Officer Holder's murder because a panel of judges decided Howard should get treatment instead of jail time.
This decision was made despite Howard's long rap sheet of violence and his history of PCP use.
At least one of the judges who helped set Howard free is now sorry for that decision. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Patricia Nunez said that she was "truly sorry" to hear of Officer Holder's death.
"There is nothing that breaks my heart more than a police officer dying," Nunez said.
This latest incident calls into question the efficacy of utilizing so called "drug courts" to offer rehabilitation services for criminals instead of incarceration. Advocates argue that rehab is often a more appropriate place for certain drug offenders but many see the diversion programs as merely a means to alleviate overcrowded jails and prisons.
And given Howard's prior history of violence (he was involved in a gunfight in East Harlem in 2009) questions arise as to why this particular individual was given rehab instead of jail time.
"He would have been the last person in New York City I would've wanted to see in the diversion program," declared New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.