Slain NYPD cop Harry Ryman’s family angered over killer’s release

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The night their dad got shot in 1980 was a typical evening for NYPD cop Harry Ryman’s five teen kids.

Dinner at six sharp. The whole family.

“And you better not be late,” said his daughter Margaret. “That was my mother’s rule.”

Ryman, who worked anti-crime in Coney Island and made extra money moonlighting in security, ate with them, all seven Rymans at the same table, then conked out and was asleep with his wife Dorothy in the front bedroom of their brick two-family in Flatlands when she heard a noise at 3:40 a.m.

The officer looked across East 49th Street and saw a young man breaking into his neighbor’s muscle car, a rust-colored Mercury Montego.

“He grabbed his gun and his badge and ran out,” Margaret said. 

Ryman, still in his pajamas, confronted the suspect, Paul Ford, who had come to Brooklyn from Jamaica.

Ford fired a gun at Ryman and missed. The cop fired back with his off-duty .38 revolver, hitting the car’s front center console.

(L-R) Aunts Nora Ryman, Janet Ryman (b/w top) uncle Harry Ryman, P.O. Matthew Ryman, his dad Edward Ryman and aunt Margaret Ryman.
From left to right, aunts Nora Ryman, Janet Ryman, uncle Harry Ryman, P.O. Matthew Ryman, his dad Edward Ryman and aunt Margaret Ryman.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post

“So he went around to the back of the car and shot at Ford through the back windshield,” said his son, Eddie.

This time Ryman didn’t miss. He struck the car thief in the head.

Ford’s two pals, also armed, were nearby in a different stolen car and came running when they heard the gunfire.

“They just opened up,” said Eddie. 

New York Post cover, August 14, 1980 showing the death of Police Officer Harry Ryman.
New York Post cover, Aug. 14, 1980 showing the death of NYPD Officer Harry Ryman.
New York Post

His dad took three bullets to the chest and went down.

“It was a nightmare,” said Margaret, which she and her siblings are reliving after a parole board ruled to spring Ford, who spent 42 years in jail for murder, next month.

A collapsed Ryman was thrust into a patrol car and rushed to Kings County Hospital. Dorothy and Margaret’s sister Nora rode with him.

There, moments later, Nora saw Ford’s gunmen pals, Barrington Young and Cornelius Bucknor, carry Ford into the ER.

“They dropped him on the floor,” said Eddie.

“My sister said, ‘That’s them!’ And the cops chased them and caught them outside the hospital.”

The surgeon who tried to save Ryman lived down the block from the cop.

“He said one of the bullets pierced his aorta,” said Eddie. “That’s what got him.”

Doctors managed to save Ford, though he was left with impaired vision.

Margaret can’t understand why Ford is about to get out. 

“We always believe that as victims of a crime, especially the children of a murdered police officer, we would have a voice. We would be heard.”

She blames Gov. Cuomo.

“Under this new program of parole reform, there’s so much emphasis on the inmates. They have more rights than we do. Cuomo has really made it a point to silence us. He’s picked every one of the parole commissioners. He wants everyone let out. Well, if the governor really believes they deserve a second chance, let’s build a great building for them behind the governor’s mansion.”

NYPD Officer Harry Ryman's funereal on Aug. 19, 1980
NYPD Officer Harry Ryman’s funeral on Aug. 19, 1980
Ted Cowell/NY Post

Ford, 58, who had previously aimed a shotgun at a cop and nearly beat an elderly man to death after robbing him, has not been a model inmate at Sullivan County.

He assaulted a prison staffer and set multiple fires while locked up, according to parole hearing minutes obtained by The Post.

Ford was just the kind of troubled young man Ryman liked to help, Margaret said.

At her dad’s funeral, she met two strangers.

The men had been arrested by her father years earlier, they told her, and had come to pay their respects.

“They said, ‘He was nice to us.’ He went and bought them Nathan’s hot dogs. He said, ‘Make better choices.’ And they did.”

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