Yesterday, Governor Paterson announced that he will convene a state panel to investigate the "friendly fire" shooting that left an off-duty police officer dead after being fired upon by another cop. Paterson said, "We don't want to see this happen to any police officer of any color ever again. We want to try to put in protocols that prevent the shooting of police officers on or off duty who are trying to apprehend criminals."

Omar Edwards was killed over a week ago when chasing a man suspected of breaking into his car. Edwards, who had just completed his shift as a housing patrol officer in Harlem, chased the suspect with his gun drawn. A group of police officers saw the chase and one allegedly shouted at Edwards to drop his gun. But Edwards, who was black, may have turned, while still holding his gun—and officer Andrew Dunton, who is white, fired six times at him, hitting Edwards three times. Some witnesses say Dunton asked Edwards to drop his gun, though it's unclear whether Edwards heard the request in the evening din.

Paterson said that while there are relatively few friendly fire incidents statewide, he acknowledged, "Within that framework, a high percentage of African-American and Hispanic officers...were shot." He added, "We are handling this sensitively; there may be issues that involve race. We’re not discussing any institutional or direct racism." The NYPD said, "We’ll provide whatever assistance the governor needs."

According to the NY Times, the NYPD also provided a list of friendly fire shootings since 1930:

[NYPD spokesman Paul Browne] also disseminated a list of 10 police officers shot and killed by colleagues in cases of mistaken identity since 1930, and said they included five who were white, four who were black and one who was Hispanic. The list did not include Desmond Robinson, a black undercover transit officer who survived being shot by a fellow officer in a subway station in 1994. Nor did it include a 1992 case in which three white officers were wounded by police bullets in East Harlem.
The Reverend Al Sharpton said he would asked the U.S. Attorney's office for an investigation. Paterson said he might consider that, 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."

In other news, Miguel Goitia, the suspected car thief Edwards had been chasing, claimed he was beaten by Corrections officers at Rikers Island, who told him he killed a cop. WCBS 2 reports that the Corrections Department has no record of this: "If it did happen, [Correction Department spokesman Steven] Morello said he wishes Goitia would have told authorities. Inmates should always bring concerns to the attention of the jail management, he said."