NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four men who were convicted of committing one of the most notorious cop killings in city history are up for parole and could go free.

For the family of Ed Byrne, a 22-year-old rookie police officer, who was assassinated on the job in a hit ordered by a jailed drug lord, the case has become personal.

“He was an energetic kid with his whole life ahead of him and it was just robbed by the terrible crime,” brother Larry Byrne told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Tuesday.

Ed Byrne was murdered in 1988. His death was a stab to the heart of the city. He was killed while guarding drug witnesses at a house in Jamaica, Queens.

His funeral was attended by 10,000 mourners, and his death served as a rallying cry in the midst of a crime epidemic.

A massive manhunt following Byrne’s death netted five arrests — the drug lord who ordered his killing from a jail cell, and the four hit men.

The men who carried out the execution are eligible for parole for the first time, and on Friday Larry Byrne will urge a parole board to deny their freedom.

“This was premeditated assault meant to intimidate police and prosecutors to stop us from cracking down on criminals,” Byrne said, speaking from Plainedge High School where the football field is named in his brother’s memory.

Two-hundred thousand people have signed PBA letters and elected officials are also asking that parole be denied. Among those officials is Byrne family friend, Congressman Peter King.

“Ten years from now this could become a cause to let these guys out of jail, they were too young when it happened, they are reformed. Future parole boards may not realize how horrendous this really was,” King said.

Cop killers now face life in prison without the possibility of parole, but when Byrne was murdered that was not an option. Byrne’s killers will be eligible for parole every two years for the rest of their lives.

Howard “Pappy” Mason, the drug kingpin who ordered the hit, is not eligible for parole and is serving a life term in federal prison.

Larry Byrne told CBS 2 that every two years he will fight to keep his brother’s killers behind bars.

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