Forty years after the brutal murder of New York State Trooper Emerson J. Dillon during a traffic stop along the Thruway near Canastota, the New York State Troopers PBA is asking its members, as well as the public, to take action to ensure that his murderer remains in prison.
John Ruzas, who was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years of life in the slaying of Trooper Dillon, has been denied parole 11 times. During the week of Nov. 9, 2015, Ruzas will receive another opportunity to ask for freedom when he appears before the New York State Parole Board.
When Ruzas murdered Trooper Dillon on Oct. 24, 1974, he was already on parole from Attica for his role in two robberies in New York City. Trooper Dillon, a 16-year veteran of the State Police, initiated the traffic stop, unaware the occupants of the vehicle were fleeing a jewelry store robbery. Ruzas, a passenger in the car, shot Trooper Dillon in the left side of his heart, killing him.
For nearly four decades after the death of her high school sweetheart, Mrs. June Dillon had kept up a valiant fight to keep her husband’s killer in prison. She remained the matriarch of a family which saw countless birthdays, holidays, weddings and births of grandchildren, all of which were experienced without Trooper Dillon. Unfortunately, Mrs. Dillon passed away on September 25, 2013, so the fight to keep John Ruzas in prison now rests on her children and the law enforcement community.
The PBA has concerns about this year’s hearing based on a recent decision by Orange County Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sciortino. Justice Sciortino ruled that the Parole Board cannot deny parole and focus “exclusively on the inmate’s crime” but instead had to also focus on “future-focused risk assessment procedures.” This means that the wording of the Parole Board’s recommendation will be critical this year.
During his time in prison, Ruzas has been doing some writing, including a piece that gives the reader a look into Ruzas’s current state of mind regarding the murder of Trooper Dillon. Titled Tragedy 2 Trial and Beyond (http://minutesbeforesix.blogspot.com/2014/11/tragedy-2-trial-beyond.html), it gives a firsthand account of that terrible day on October 24, 1974 and the fact that Ruzas equally blames Trooper Dillon for performing his duties that ultimately led to his death. In another writing he laments, “I have enjoyed no vacations, sick leaves or 8 hour shifts, but I’ve lived the 24/7 monotony with the sole purpose of maintaining my humanity, and someday, my release.”
A husband and father of six, Trooper Dillon loved being a New York State Trooper. He acted bravely and heroically until the end, as he was able to fire two return shots as he backpedaled across four lanes of highway to try to reach safety. One of the shots struck the vehicle he had stopped.
The State Troopers PBA is joining the family of Trooper Emerson J. Dillon to keep John E. Ruzas in prison, and the public is welcome to join us in our efforts by sending a letter of opposition to the Board of Parole either via mail or online.
If you would like to mail a letter of opposition to the Board of Parole, it should be sent to the following address:
NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Attn: Director Janet Koupash, Office of Victim Assistance
1220 Washington Ave, Building 2
Albany, New York 12226
If you would like to submit a letter of opposition to the Board of Parole online, please visit its website by clicking on the following link:
After you fill out your personal information, you will see fields for “Din,” “Inmate Name” and “Subject of Your Email.” Here is what you will type in:
Din: 75C0385 (it’s a “zero” after the “C”)
Inmate Last Name: Ruzas
Inmate First Name: John
Subject of Your Email: Letter of Opposition
Then, in the “Comments” box, you can copy and paste the following letter:
I oppose the parole of John Ruzas, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the Oct. 24, 1974 slaying of State Trooper Emerson J. Dillon. Trooper Dillon was shot fatally in the heart by Ruzas while conducting a traffic stop. When Ruzas murdered Trooper Dillon, he was on parole from Attica for his role in two robberies. Given the appalling statistics of police officers being killed or assaulted in the line of duty, coupled with the fact that John Ruzas has already murdered a New York State Trooper, I fear that history would repeat itself if John Ruzas was granted parole.