NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – The streets outside of Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church in the heart of Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood were packed with residents and police officers bidding farewell to a 25-year-old police officer, who died a week earlier on a Harlem street as a result of friendly fire.
“Omar Edwards will be remembered as a team player, a loving husband, and devoted father; a son who was always there–a brother to his family,” said Monsignor Robert Romano during the eulogy.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the slain officer was “a proud father and a proud police officer, who would try to counsel arrestees on ways to get help to straighten out their lives.”
“The eight million people living in New York City are eternally grateful for Omar Edwards’ dedication to duty,” declared Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Gov. David Paterson promised to convene a meeting of civic and community leaders to “see what we can do to make sure this never happens again.” The Final Call has learned that the meeting was scheduled for June 5 at an undisclosed location.
Outside the church there was talk of how little was known about what really happened the night of May 28, when Officer Edwards gave chase after a man who had allegedly broken into his car.
Police officials say the young officer, who was Black, was shot and killed by a fellow officer, Andrew Dunton, 30, who is White. Off. Edwards did not properly respond to the orders to drop his weapon and turned towards Off. Dunton, gun in hand, police officials said.
“An unfortunate death, a reflection of the deep racism that exists in this country; and that manifests itself in the constant shooting of young Black men,” Councilman Al Vann (D-Brooklyn) told The Final Call. “People are going to have to talk about this, and find solutions, which won’t happen over night,” he added. Then, after pausing to gather his thoughts, he said, “White cops killing Black cops–friendly fire. Why is it not happening in the reverse?”
Damon Jones, president of the Westchester County chapter of the National Black Police Association told The Final Call there would be no real changes until people are “ready to look at the institutional racism in the police departments.”
Reports are surfacing that Officer Dunton had four civilian complaints lodged against him in his four-and-a half years as a member of the NYPD. Two of the complaints involved the use of excessive force.
News reports also said the sergeant in charge of the anti-crime detail that came upon Officer Edwards has had 13 civilian complaints since joining the force in 1996. Observers call that many complaints a red-flag.
NYPD brass wouldn’t answer reporters’ questions about the nature of the complaints, but admitted Sgt. John Anzelino had 2,000 arrests and was in a monitoring program twice. They won’t say if Officer Dunton was being monitored. He has 104 arrests, 71 for felonies, since 2005.
State Sen. Eric Adams, a co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, said: “To say race likely played a role in the death of Omar Edwards is not to call anyone a racist, it is simply acknowledging psychological reality.” The governor must bring together expert psychologists, sociologists, criminologists and police tactical experts to design a comprehensive training plan and show how stereotypes taint judgment, he said.
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