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NYPD investigates how cop shot off-duty colleague

By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer
Fri May 29, 9:21 pm ET




NEW YORK – A police officer had just opened fire on a man he thought was a criminal, caught running through a desolate stretch of Harlem with a gun in his hand. But when paramedics arrived at the scene and cut through the bloodied clothes, the officers realized the man handcuffed and dying in the street was wearing a police academy T-shirt underneath his street clothes, and had a badge in his pocket.

He was a rookie cop chasing down a thief who had just broken into his car.

Now, police are trying to determine whether any disciplinary or legal action will be taken against the officer who fired or whether the victim, Omar J. Edwards, might not have followed proper procedure.

The officer who fired and two others involved were placed on administrative duty during the investigation, and it is too early to say whether anyone was at fault, said police spokesman Paul Browne.

"The matter is under investigation. I'm not going to characterize the shooting in any way," he said Friday.

The episode once again raised questions about whether the NYPD is too trigger-happy, especially when the targets are black. The officers are white; Edwards was black.

Edwards left his shift early at the police housing bureau in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood Thursday around 10:30 p.m. when he noticed a man rummaging through his car along a darkened street. The man, Miguel Santiago, had used a metal spark plug to smash the window, police said.

Edwards struggled with Santiago, who wriggled out of his sweat shirt and took off running. Edwards pursued him with his 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun drawn, witnesses told police.

Meanwhile, Officer Andrew Dunton, a sergeant and another officer in an unmarked gray police car came upon the two men running. The officers were on routine patrol from the neighboring 25th Precinct anti-crime unit.

Santiago, who ran past the officers, said later that he heard Dunton yell, "Police! Stop! Drop the gun!"

That's when Edwards, in front of the police car, turned toward the officers with his service weapon in hand, police said. Dunton fired six times from behind the passenger's door; Edwards was hit in the left arm, hip and back. He died at the Harlem Hospital Center about an hour after the shooting.

Though the official cause of death was a gunshot to the chest, the bullet that caused the fatal injury entered the left side of Edward's back before hitting his heart and left lung, said medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove. It lodged in the front of his chest.

Edwards did not fire his weapon, and Browne said that so far, no witnesses say he identified himself as an officer.

The other two officers ran after Santiago and arrested him on charges of petit larceny and resisting arrest. He was briefly hospitalized Friday but was being held at the 25th Precinct, police said. He was apparently living at a shelter.

Dunton, 30, has been an officer for four years.

On Friday, lawmakers and residents debated whether race played in the shooting even as the NYPD is the most diverse it's ever been.

"I think they just saw a guy with a gun. How's that cop (who shot him) supposed to know" he was a police officer, said Carmen Romero, who was on her way to work Friday from a nearby housing project. On the other hand, she said, it could have been because the cop was black.

Phyllis Tate, talking with another customer in a shop near the scene of the shooting, wondered how to identify officers if they're not in uniform.

"I don't feel this was a racial thing. They can't be running around out here in plainclothes with their guns drawn. The shooter was acting like an officer. The victim was acting like an officer also," she said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he got calls shortly after the shooting "from black officers who were at the precinct and were alarmed by the shooting of Omar Edwards." The civil rights activist said he is concerned about "a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals."

Sharpton called for a federal investigation.

"Can police investigate themselves fairly and impartially? It would seem very difficult at best and unlikely in fact," he said.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was planning to meet with community leaders and concerned lawmakers during the weekend.

The 25-year-old Edwards joined the department in July 2007, and his family said he always wanted to be a cop.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful child from when he was small," said his father, Ricardo Edwards.

Omar Edwards lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn with his new wife and two small children, but was assigned to the Impact Response Team, a roving team of officers that helps flood higher-crime areas with officers. Edwards also played defensive tackle for the NYPD football team last year but took this season off to get married.

"His desire was always to be a policeman and to play football; and he did accomplish both because he plays for the Police Department," said his uncle, Jerome Harding.

On Friday, purple and black bunting hung in front of the police station, and several vigils were held for the family. More were planned for the weekend. The NYPD changed its on-the-job training for June to confrontations between officers.

The shooting recalled other cases of off-duty policemen being shot and killed by fellow officers.

In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains.

In 2006, a New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to an attack at a White Castle in the Bronx.

___

Associated Press writers Marcus Franklin and Sara Kugler contributed to this report.
 
 BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
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Somehow I doubt that Edwards had the opportunity to identify himself as a police officer... I wonder if it is "procedure" to fire on suspects when not in immediate danger...

quote:
Santiago, who ran past the officers, said later that he heard Dunton yell, "Police! Stop! Drop the gun!"
I question how Santiago knew that it was Dunton and NOT Edwards...
quote:
I smell an execution......


That was my very thought once the second wave of news stories I saw indicated that an under police car with undercover cops and a "sergeant" (which doesn't say whether he was in uniform or in plainclothes) was in the area then responded when they saw the foot chase.

I was willing to accept as plausible a uniform officer killing an undercover in "friendly fire." But it's hard for me to see how Edwards was just getting off his undercover off-duty and other undercover officers not knowing who he was, even if working a different shift. They were obviously working the same area.
quote:
Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
quote:
Originally posted by Nmaginate:
quote:
the bullet that caused the fatal injury entered the left side of Edward's back before hitting his heart and left lung, said medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove.


Hmmm.... 19


I smell an execution......

yeah

Not so much because he was shot in the back though! Eek But because the shooting cop felt it was necessary to fire 6 times at a person without knowing anything about the situation or reasoning behind what was going on!!

Firing 6 times means that you are shooting to kill. Period.

And calling the 'official cause of death' a bullet to the chest when the bullet that actually killed him entered through his back doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, either. 19
quote:
But because the shooting cop felt it was necessary to fire 6 times


Have you ever shot a handgun in a stressful situation? 6 shots isn't that much. Also, actual police training says you don't stop firing until you neutralize the "threat" (i.e. until you know the person is dead/lifeless).

Technically, a person can still move, even continue to attack, after gunshots. They have to bleed out first.

quote:
And calling the 'official cause of death' a bullet to the chest when the bullet that actually killed him entered through his back doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, either.


I don't know how there is an "official cause of death" that's different from whatever the medical examiner determines... Maybe the shotty news story is referring to what NYPD said or what they thought was said about the cause of death confusing or not knowing which was the entrance vs. exit wound from the gun shot.

I'd like to know where all 6 shots entered/exited.

quote:

Firing 6 times means that you are shooting to kill. Period.


Huh? Confused

The police described a clear "shoot to kill" situation especially if they actually didn't know Edwards was a police officer. Police have no duty or obligation to shoot one or two shots at a person pointing a gun at them, let alone to take shots from someone pointing a gun at them. In fact, most police training drill 3 shots as a minimum (2 to the chest, 1 to the head).

I'm sure that's basically goes right out the window in a lot of high stress shooting situations like the one described (a chase scenario that resulted in quick gun-to-gun confrontation vs. a negotiation type scenario). So, again, I don't see 6 shots as necessarily excessive or indicative of anything but, perhaps, the shooting officer trying to protect himself...

Police should, however, know who their fellow officers are.
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.
http://www.nydailynews.com/new..._prosecutor_yet.html
quote:
That's when Edwards, in front of the police car, turned toward the officers with his service weapon in hand, police said. Dunton fired six times from behind the passenger's door; Edwards was hit in the left arm, hip and back. He died at the Harlem Hospital Center about an hour after the shooting.



What does "turned toward the officers with his service weapon in hand" mean? was it pointed at them? or did he simply have it in his hand?
quote:
What does "turned toward the officers with his service weapon in hand" mean? was it pointed at them? or did he simply have it in his hand?


I'm not sure that's a relevant distinction/difference. Police are trained to view "a gun in hand" as a "gun in use." The issue, to me, is how Edwards was just leaving work and the officers working in the same area apparently/supposedly didn't know him.
Thousands Remember Black NYC Officer Slain by Fellow Cop

Date: Friday, June 05, 2009, 3:33 pm
By: Tom Hays, Associated Press





NEW YORK (AP) — After Omar Edwards achieved a dream by graduating from the New York Police Department academy, he was so proud he wore his badge around his apartment.

"On duty or off-duty — even at home — he was a police officer," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday.

Edwards' life ended as an officer too: He was killed last week in a friendly fire incident that has raised questions about race and police tactics.

Thousands of officers in crisp dress uniforms lined up Thursday five-deep for about 10 blocks outside a Catholic church in Brooklyn for Edwards' funeral, where Kelly, Gov. David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others eulogized him. The mayor announced the officer was being posthumously promoted to detective, which means his family will get more death benefits.

Edwards, 25, had just ended a tour in Harlem and was in street clothes on May 28 when he chased a man who had broken into his car down a dark street. Plainclothes officers patrolling nearby noticed the pair and ordered them to halt. When Edwards turned toward them with his gun out, one of the officers shot him.

"The crime set in motion a tragic chain of events which we are doing everything in our power to understand," Kelly told an audience that included Edwards' parents, wife Danielle and two tiny sons. "We owe Omar's family our deepest sympathy, our everlasting loyalty."

The commissioner described the victim as a curious, steady and attentive student who thrived in the police academy. As an officer, he rooted out drugs and gained the trust of young men and women.

"Even when making an arrest, he'd encourage suspects to turn their lives around," Kelly said.

Edwards was also an athlete: He signed up for bicycle patrol and played on the NYPD's football team.

And he was a loving father and son. When officers opened his locker last week after his death, they found a photo tucked into his police cap showing his son on the day he was born, Kelly said.

"By all accounts, life as a police officer was everything Omar hoped it would be. Between work and fatherhood, he was living out a lifelong dream," Kelly said.

NYPD officers were still struggling to make sense of the killing. Edwards' partner, Officer Michael Muskin, said that when he heard that Edwards was dead, "I couldn't believe it. To find that out was heartbreaking."

The officer who fired at Edwards, Andrew Dunton, and two other officers have been placed on administrative duty as the department investigates.

At the funeral mass, the Rev. Paul Jervis said Dunton needs their prayers. "He too needs our compassion," he said.

Edwards was black; the three other officers were white. Several leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, believe race is a factor in his death. Paterson called for a thorough investigation but stopped short of saying race was a factor, adding that the shooting was not deliberate.

In the week since the shooting, the NYPD has revamped its training on confrontations with other officers, and said on-the-job training in June would cover confrontations. Kelly, Paterson and Bloomberg have canvassed the community, offering condolences and listening to residents' fears.

"I promise you we will do everything possible to learn from this tragedy," Bloomberg told mourners.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:

NEW YORK (AP) — After Omar Edwards achieved a dream by graduating from the New York Police Department academy, he was so proud he wore his badge around his apartment.



Smile dude, can you arrest this laundry? You got jurisdiction over the dishes? lol


reading/hearing about this situation seems soooo sad, and such a loss. From all accounts, he was a good guy. 7

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