A new controversy is brewing, thanks to Rep. Charlie Rangel. He made a snide remark earlier today in which he suggested that even President Obama was at risk on the streets of Harlem after Edwards was slain by a white colleague. He was asked what advice he would offer Obama for the president’s Saturday night visit to the city. “Make certain he doesn’t run around in East Harlem unidentified,” Rangel shot back while leaving a public appearance. Let’s see who runs with this. More to come….
I was appalled to learn that an off-duty rookie cop, Omar Edwards, 25, who was chasing a suspected car thief in East Harlem with his gun drawn was shot and killed Thursday night when Officer Andrew Dunton, an officer mistook him for a criminal. The problem wll be magnified because it was a white cop who mistook the black cop for a criminal. Ouch. “Police! Stop! Drop it!” cops from the 25th Precinct shouted at Edwards. According to the NY Daily News, as he started to turn toward him – the gun still in his hand – an officer opened fire. I must point out that it is being reported that Edwards had no visible NYPD identification on him, nor is it clear if he identified himself. I worry about the fallout from this senseless killing and a potential cover-up by the cops involved. This is always the fear of a black cop on any police force — being mistaken for a criminal because of the color of one’s skin. This is a senseless tragedy and I cannot understand why it happened. If the guy was not firing or pointing a gun at the cops, then why did they kill him?
One dejected cop said Edwards “just became a new father. He took some personal time so he could take the baby to North Carolina to meet his folks.” Edwards’ mother, Natalia Harding, said her son had just married his girlfriend, Danielle Glen, last month at City Hall. They have two kids – 11/2-year-old Xavier and 7-month-old Keanua.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Edwards, who had been on the force less than two years and worked out of a Manhattan housing unit, had left work about 10:30 p.m. He was in street clothes as he walked toward his car parked about a block away on Second Ave. between E. 124th and E. 125th St., where he saw Miguel Santiago rummaging through the vehicle. The driver’s side window was busted out. Edwards grabbed Santiago, who managed to slip out of his sweater and escape Edwards’ grip, Kelly said. Gun drawn, Edwards gave chase.
At the same time, three plainclothes officers in an unmarked car saw Edwards running down the street. The car made a U-turn, and one of the officers, a white cop with more than four years on the job, got out and fired six shots – hitting Edwards twice, once in the left arm and once in the chest, Kelly said. Edwards did not fire his weapon. Cops discovered Edwards was one of them when rescue crews cut open his shirt to treat the bleeding and saw a police academy shirt. They then searched his pockets and found his shield, sources said. Source: NY Daily News
The second issue for me, besides race, deals with the departmental procedures in place involving communications among plainclothes officers — particularly those in different units. There must be a way in which these cops can identify one another instead of resorting to firing their weapons. I hope some positive changes will come out of this tragedy. Mr. Kelly identified the officer who fired the shots only as a four-year veteran of the department, and said he had fired six rounds from his 9-millimeter Glock. Two bullets struck Officer Edwards.
This shooting death speaks volumes to the issue many black men have with law enforcement being trigger-happy. My father was pulled over and threatened by a NYPD officer a few years ago for no other reason but racial profiling. How many other black men have had similar run-ins with law enforcement? They cannot just make an assumption that because this man is black he is automatically a suspect of some type. Shameful and just plain wrong. I cannot imagine that this shooting death will help race relations in New York City, which has been hanging by a thread between blacks and the NYPD. It is my hope that the truth will prevail and there won’t be a cover-up. A thorough investigation must be launched and arrests must be made.