Tyrone Howard appears in court following a guilty plea in a drug charge in Manhatt

An East Harlem man was sentenced Monday to life in prison for gunning down a police officer in 2015, a case that angered city officials because the killer was on the streets and should have been jailed on a drug charge.


Tyrone Howard, 32, was convicted of first-degree murder by a Manhattan Supreme Court jury for firing a single shot into Officer Randolph Holder's temple in East Harlem in October 2015.


"The shooting of a New York City police officer is in many ways an attack on the entire community," Judge Michael Obus said before sentencing Howard, whom he described as an "extremely dangerous individual."


Dozens of police officers attended the sentencing. They stood and applauded as Howard was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.


"Rot in hell!" screamed a relative of Holder as Howard left the courtroom.


Howard had shot repeatedly into a crowd of people on a street, then stole a bicycle at gunpoint. He ran into Holder and his partner, who were responding to the report of the shooting, and then shot Holder to death.

In addition to the murder charge, Howard was convicted of aggravated murder and robbery.

Before the shooting, Howard had been sentenced to receive treatment as part of a plea bargain for selling crack cocaine. His sentence in that case was changed to 12 years in prison after the killing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and then Police Commissioner William Bratton sharply criticized the outcome of the earlier case after Holder's shooting. They suggested that two state judges erred in allowing Howard to remain on the streets after a history of drug offenses.

Howard, who failed to complete his treatment, was wanted in connection with a gang-related shooting at the time of Holder's death.