(FinalCall.com) – Police officer Christopher Ridley, 23, a member of the Mount Vernon, New York Police Department, was laid to rest on Feb. 1, another victim of a police shooting. Officer Ridley was shot and killed Jan. 25 by four West Chester County, N.Y. police officers while he attempted to break up a fight. He was in street clothes.

The official version is that the four uniformed officers saw a gun and told Mr. Ridley to drop his weapon; and when he did not comply, they shot him–not knowing he was a police officer.

Rev. Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, met Jan. 26 with the Ridley family, police and prosecutors said the officers fired nine shots. Shots hit the young officer in the back of the head, his chest, hip and wrist, according to Rev. Sharpton. To date there has been no official explanation as to what prompted the officers to shoot Mr. Ridley.


“Our position at this point is that we are supporting the Ridley family in their hour of need,” said Damon Jones, the Westchester County director of the National Black Police Association. Off. Ridley “went beyond the call of duty, trying to stop an assault. We are asking for a clean, thorough investigation,” Mr. Jones told The Final Call.

All the officers involved have been placed on administrative duty. They are Frank Oliveri, Jose Calero, Christian Gutierrez and Det. Robin Martin. Calls to the Westchester Police Dept. have not been returned.

Mr. Jones, however, said his organization believes this to be a case of perception–a perception among law officers that a Black man with a gun doesn’t mean anything good. “If you are a Black police officer off-duty with a gun, you’re a thug. If you’re a White police officer off-duty, you are a detective,” Mr. Jones said. Ironically, Off. Ridley was promoted to detective posthumously after his death.

On the streets of Mt. Vernon, with a 59 percent Black population, many believe the officers’ perceptions superseded their professionalism.

Mt. Vernon Mayor Clinton Young, a Black man, called Mr. Ridley a “great cop” and a “fallen hero” who was well liked. But, he said, there should be no rush to judgment.

The Rev. William Mizell, associate pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, talked about the slain officer during the press conference with Rev. Sharpton. He was a music lover who was active in the congregation and would sometimes help children cross the street on their way to services, the associate pastor said. “This was a young man who always had compassion for others,” Rev. Mizell said.

Mt. Vernon Police Commissioner David Chong told reporters “there is no doubt that (Off. Ridley) was a hero, and was acting in the performance of his duties as a police officer.”

The man Off. Ridley was trying to arrest, Anthony Jacobs, was arraigned Jan. 28 and charged with second-degree possession of a weapon and second-degree assault. Both charges are felonies. The complaint says he “forcefully wrestled control” of Mr. Ridley’s loaded gun, while the officer was trying to arrest him.

“One of the messages we are trying to convey to Black police officers, when they are off-duty, and get involved in this type of activity, is wear your badge on your back, so that those who may want to shoot you can get a good look at it,” said Mr. Jones.

Since 1940, in New York state at least 20 Black police officers have been slain by their White counterparts. Not one White officer has been slain by a Black officer, according to the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.