Gov. Paterson will convene a panel to review all "friendly fire" shootings for patterns of bias but isn't rushing to name a special prosecutor in the death of NYPD Officer Omar Edwards.
The number of cops mistakenly wounded or killed by fellow officers statewide is small - but there appears to be a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos, Paterson said yesterday.
"We tried to have an honest and open discussion today on what seems to be, within that framework, a high percentage of African-American and Hispanic officers who were shot," the governor said.
Ten NYPD officers have been killed by friendly fire since 1930 - five whites, four blacks and one Hispanic, the department said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and some lawmakers have asked Paterson to appoint an independent prosecutor to probe the May 28 shooting of Edwards, a black off-duty officer, by a white plainclothes cop in East Harlem.
Paterson may consider it.
"But right now I will rely on the district attorney of New York County, Robert Morgenthau, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who are investigating this," Paterson said.
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn) urged the Justice Department to study friendly-fire cases to develop training and procedure guidelines in the wake of the Edwards shooting.
Edwards was killed by Officer Andrew Dunton while chasing - with gun in hand - a petty criminal who had broken into his car in East Harlem.
The suspect, Miguel Goitia, claimed yesterday that correction officers beat him up.
"They beat me up," Goitia, 42, told the Daily News at Rikers Island. "They said I killed a cop."
Goitia pointed to bruises on his forehead and the right side of his face. He rolled up his pants to show a swollen, red right knee. "They kicked me, they punched me, they hit me on the back of the head," Goitia said.
A Correction Department spokesman said the allegation was under review but that Goitia had not reported any problems.
Goitia refused to talk about the fatal shooting.
He was arrested by Dunton's colleagues, Sgt. John Anzelino and Officer John Musante, minutes after Edwards was shot. Goitia said the cops threw him on the ground but didn't hit him.
According to the NYPD's account, Edwards never identified himself as a cop and turned toward Dunton with the weapon in his hand when ordered to stop.
The NYPD is contacting labs to research if weapons can be marked so officers would know if a gun pointed at them is registered to the Police Department.