Yesterday, about 250 people marched in Harlem during a rally for Omar Edwards, the off-duty police officer who was fatally shot in Harlem by a fellow cop. Edwards, who was black, had been pursuing a man suspected of breaking into his car with his gun drawn; his shooter, police officer Andrew Dunton, was white. According to the Reverend Al Sharpton said, "We're not here to play the race card. We're trying to stop the card from being played on black law enforcement."
Edwards's father voiced some sympathy for Dunton: Ricardo Edwards told reporters yesterday, "I feel sorry for the guy who shot my son. I feel sorry for his family. He has to sleep at night. I’m going to pray for him." Edwards's uncle Eugenio added, "Everything is fast reaction. Sometimes things happen so fast. The facts will come out...You can't say it's race yet. But if Omar was shot in the back, we have a problem." His family is planning a funeral; it may be on Thursday, but they are still looking for a church large enough to accommodate the expected turnout.
Mayor Bloomberg, who visited Edwards's grieving family yesterday, also mentioned the split-second circumstances of the tragic shooting, "I think we all understand that at night, in the heat of trying to decide what's right, people have to make instantaneous, instinctive decisions. Sometimes those are right and sometimes those are wrong....[Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly is going to change some of the training. We've done it before and we'll do it again and let's hope down the road we don't have to do it a third time."
Kelly also met with Harlem community members yesterday, later saying, "We don’t know the sequence of events. Sometimes the body turns, twists as a result of being shot. This is not an unusual circumstance," and said there was no evidence so far that Edwards was shot in the back. And Patrolman's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch also visited the Edwards family. Lynch said of Dunton, "He just cries constantly."
The NY Times looks at how black officers "face a special peril." Former police captain and current State Senator Eric Adams explained, "This is the most Shakespearean aspect of policing. Your greatest fear is to be shot and slain on duty, and that’s only matched by your fear of shooting another officer... If you speak with nine out of 10 officers of color they would tell you that when they hear sirens, in their head they are thinking: ‘I hope these cops know that I’m one of the good guys.’"
As for the car break-in suspect Edwards had been chasing? The Post reports Miguel Goitia (he used the alias Santiago) was asleep during his arraignment on auto-stripping charges. The judge held him on $50,000 bail, "If these allegations are true, then but for your conduct, a brave and decent police officer, a husband and father, would not have lost his life."