NYPD Officer Omar Edwards was gunned down by fellow officer Andrew Dunton Thursday evening in East Harlem on 125st. According to reports, Edwards, who was off duty at the time, was chasing a suspect who he seen rummaging through his car- with his gun drawn. He was spotted by plains clothes officers of the anti crime unit who followed him in an unmarked vehicle. Allegedly one of the officers yelled “police stop!” and when Edwards turned around Dunton fired 6 shots- killing him.
The medical examiner stated that Edwards was shot 6x in the back, arms & hip
It’s not clear whether or not Officer Edwards heard Officer Dunton’s command to stop or whether they identified themselves at all. It is also not clear if Edwards had the chance to respond to identify himself as a fellow officer; however, what is clear is that there was a break down in communication. One report describes that it wasn’t until Edwards handcuffed body lay on the ground and the officers searched him is when they discovered his badge and noticed he was wearing a police academy shirt.
Although this may appear to be an innocent case of “friendly fire” many New Yorkers are not convinced—calling for a full investigation into this shooting. Why? because Police Officer Edwards was black and Officer Dunton was white. “A white officer shooting a black man is nothing new in our community” stated one man who came out to a vigil held by Rev Al Sharpton of the National Action Network. Sharpton called for a federal investigation into this incident, stating that it’s not fair to ask “the police to police themselves”.
Is this a case of Friendly Fire or is this a case of racial profiling?
According to some New Yorkers questioned on the streets of Harlem many agreed, you cannot assume that every black man with a gun is a criminal. Police rules state that off-duty officers are supposed to identify themselves in any confrontation with other cops. They also state the challenging officers are supposed to use sound tactics and judgment. “It comes down to training,” said one Harlem resident. Many refer back to the case of Police Officer Desmond Robinson, who survived a “friendly” fire incident in 1994 at the hands of Officer Peter DelDebbio. Robinson who was also shot 4x in the back recalls being shot after he lie on the ground – posing no threat to anyone, with his gun out of his hand pointed towards the track. Del-Debbio was brought up on charges of 1st & 2nd Degree Assault and later found guilty of second degree assault. “His statement contradicts Del-Debbio’, however one wonders what story would have been told had Robinson died and been unable to tell his version of the story” – Black Shield, by Roger L. Abel. Robinson sued NYC for $50million. His case was eventually settled for $3million.
Dunton and two other officers are now placed on desk duty pending investigation.
25yr old Edwards leaves a wife and two children.
FUNERAL scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in Our Lady of Victory Church, 583 Throop Ave., Brooklyn.