June 19, 2015
The sister of a Philadelphia police officer who was murdered in 1991 is outraged by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling this week that spared the life of her brother's killer because of his low IQ, the Grand Forks Herald reports.
Pennsylvania's high court ruled Tuesday that Edward Bracey, convicted of killing 21-year-old Philly police officer Daniel Boyle, can't be executed because he has an IQ of 74. Boyle was gunned down by Bracey during an attempted traffic stop on Feb. 4, 1991.
Boyle's sister, Kathleen Wrigley, said her family was stunned by the court's decision to uphold a lower court ruling that Bracey cannot be executed as originally sentenced because he is "intellectually disabled."
"It's excruciating, unfair. It's not right, it's not justice," Wrigley told the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota on Thursday.
The ruling means Bracey, now 52, is out of solitary confinement on Pennsylvania's death row and will live out the rest of his days in the general prison population. There, he has fewer restrictions and more amenities. Wrigley fears that as a cop-killer, Bracey may even be heralded as a hero by other inmates.
Wrigley, who is married to a North Dakota prosecutor, said she and her parents attended every court hearing.
In a profile on Wrigley, the Fargo, North Dakota newspaper, The Forum, reported on her struggle to find justice after losing her only brother. She described how her brother called for help on his police radio during the shooting:
The first time Kathleen and her parents heard that radio call was when the recording was played at Bracey's trial.
"He was screaming 'Officer down, officer down. Please help me, please don't let me die,' " said Kathleen.
"I'll never forget that, just the echoing of those bullets and him pleading for help."
According to press reports at the time, the fatal encounter between the officer and former convict started after Bracey met a friend who was driving a stolen car.
Boyle spotted the two men and started following them in his patrol car. When the two cars stopped, Bracey told investigators he jumped onto the hood of the police car holding a handgun.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News:
Bracey said Boyle had seen the gun in his hand and had reached for his service revolver.
"I was hollering for him not to do it," Bracey told police, adding, "He started to back up and I started firing."
As Boyle backed away, Bracey ran after the squad car and continued firing in the passenger side at Boyle, according to the statement.
"The car was moving and I kept firing," Bracey said. "Then the car crashed and I ran down 8th Street."
Bracey, on the run, would later set himself on fire with nail polish remover. When asked why, Bracey told police: "All I kept hearing when I turned on the TV was that they was going to shoot me. The officer shouldn't have died and they were going to shoot me and I was running scared.
"It should have never happened. I wish it had never happened," he said.