Meet the killer cop

I had a family friend who was a police officer in the Bronx, my homeland, in the 1970s. He had worked out of the notorious precinct known as Fort Apache. At the time that I knew him best, he was a fugitive from the law, living under an assumed name in San Jose.

Tommy Ryan (we called him Mike) was at that time the only New York City cop ever convicted of committing homicide while on duty. My mother, who went to church every day, knew that about Tommy, and still she welcomed him into her home at family gatherings, even on Christmas. She said she knew in her heart that he was not guilty. So did we all.

If you Google Tommy “Nutsy” Ryan (not making this up) and read his story, you will likely come to the conclusion that he was, in fact, not guilty. You will also find that while in prison (he eventually turned himself in to protect those of us who were aiding and abetting him), he risked his life to save someone else’s.

John Tennis’ story is nothing at all like Tommy Ryan’s, although the two men share certain characteristics. These are the kind of tough guys who don’t mind at all getting in the middle of a fight. Back in the day, when we went looking for someone to wear a badge and carry a gun, they were pretty much the only kind of people who were willing to step up.

We were all surprised when Tennis reached out to us in the hopes that we would help him tell his story, and I, for one, was glad. I believe everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. And I believe everyone deserves to have their story told. This one is important.