SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Police are remembering the life of Officer Wallie Howard Jr. He was shot and killed in the line of duty on October 30, 1990. NewsChannel 9’s Christie Casciano shows us how his legacy continues to live on, and how badge number 415 won’t be forgotten.
The scene — 30 years ago on Syracuse’s south side in a grocery store parking lot — was filled with confusion for Wallie Howard’s brothers and sisters in blue who had to process an officer being down and then process the heartache.
The pandemic silenced any large gatherings this year, so NewsChannel 9 will take you back to five years ago:
“It was the worst day of my career. Tragedy is always easier to remember than triumph. He was a pleasure to worth with, and work next to, and it’s such a tragedy. I don’t think the community can really gauge what they lost when Wallie was killed,” said retired Syracuse Police Lt. John Corbett.
“I was the officer with the city portable. And it was I that had to call out, that we had an officer down. I remember wanting the ambulance to get there instantaneously. I knew in my heart, they couldn’t get there soon enough. Many lives changed in that moment. But the changes in my life pale in comparison to the changes in the life of the Howard family,” said retired Syracuse Deputy Chief Rebecca Thompson.
Howard’s death still has a sobering effect today, perhaps even more so now for officers like Henry Brown, Howard’s good friend and partner.
“I want people to understand what a police officer is going through. The risk he is taking to save their lives,” Brown said. “I mean, I have 40 something years in and I still want to do it because somebody has to be out here to help people. And if we aren’t going to do it, who is going to do it?”
This year, deep sorrow is mixed with anger, knowing the man who killed Officer Howard, Robert “Bam Bam” Lawrence, who was 16 at the time, is now out of prison.
“I think this is absolutely horrendous. Some people think 30 years is a long time to serve, but he executed Wallie sitting in his car, while he was there for the residents of Syracuse,” said Jeff Piedmonte, Syracuse PBA President.
And on Oct. 30, 1990, Wallie Howard believed he could make a difference.
“There’s something each and every day one of us can do and it’s important to continue that on,” Howard said.