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05-29-09, 12:05 PM #1
NYPD Off-Duty Officer Is Fatally Shot by Police in Harlem
Off-Duty Officer Is Fatally Shot by Police in Harlem
By RUSS BUETTNER and AL BAKER
May 29, 2009
A New York City police officer who had just gotten off duty was fatally shot late Thursday night in East Harlem by a fellow officer who mistook him for an armed criminal, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.
The slain officer, Omar J. Edwards, 25, who was assigned to patrol housing projects and was wearing plain clothes, was shot in the arm and chest after a team of three other plainclothes officers in a car saw him chasing a man on East 125th Street between First and Second Avenues with his gun drawn, Mr. Kelly said.
Sources identified the officer who fired the shot as Andrew Dunton, a four-year veteran of the force from Long Island.
Officer Dunton and the two other officers assigned to the anticrime unit in the 25th Precinct got out of their vehicle and confronted Officer Edwards. The department on Friday was investigating whether the officers had identified themselves or demanded that Officer Edwards drop his weapon before Officer Dunton opened fire.
Mr. Kelly said two of six bullets fired from the officer’s 9-millimeter Glock struck Officer Edwards, who had just come off duty and was not wearing a bulletproof vest.
Officer Edwards, a recently married father of two from Brooklyn, was taken to Harlem Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:21 p.m. No one else was injured.
"While we don’t know all of the details of what happened tonight, this is a tragedy,” Mayor Bloomberg said during an early morning news conference at the hospital. “Rest assured we will find out exactly what happened here and see what we can learn from it so it can never happen again.”
The shooting has once again raised questions again about departmental procedures involving communications among plainclothes officers — particularly those in different units — as well as issues of race.
Officer Edwards was black, and Officer Dunton is white.
While a source in a position to know said that he had come across nothing so far that raised questions about the conduct of Officer Dunton or his fellow officers, the Rev. Al Sharpton said on Friday that he was “concerned of a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals.”
“This calls for federal investigation and intervention to sort out the facts and bring about a just resolve,” Mr. Sharpton said. “Can police investigate themselves fairly and impartially? It would seem very difficult at best and unlikely in fact.”
Mayor Bloomberg said on his morning radio show that investigators
were reviewing security tapes of the shooting, which he maintained was not deliberate, and interviewing witnesses. Investigators were also questioning the man Officer Edwards had been chasing.
"The only thing that can come out of this is to improve procedures so perhaps it doesn’t happen again," the mayor said. "We all know policing is a dangerous job and accidents happen when people have guns in their hands, even legal guns in this case which they are authorized and trained to use."
He later added: “It’s easy for people to say, ‘oh, you know, how can this happen,’ but when the adrenaline is running, and you don’t know where the bullets are coming from, and you don’t know who that person is on the other side of the street, it’s easy to second guess. That’s why they are trained. Can you ever do enough training? I suppose not.”
The department’s policy manual — the Patrol Guide — is specific in putting the responsibility on the off-duty officer in such situations.
In one section, titled "confrontation situations," it says that if an off-duty officer is trying to make a arrest and is confronted by an on-duty officer, that the off-duty officer must abandon the arrest effort and comply with the on-duty officer’s orders.
"In such encounters, the actions of the members in the first few seconds are of vital importance," the guide states. "It must be absolutely clear in the minds of all members of the service that in any confrontation, the burden of proving identity rests on the confronted officer, whether on or off duty. The challenging officer, however, also has a responsibility to use sound tactics and judgment in approaching the situation."
For member of the Police Department, the tragedy was compounded because Officer Edwards’s father-in-law is also a police officer stationed in the 67th Precinct in Brooklyn, officials said.
Officer Edwards, who joined the force in July 2007, was working as part of an Impact Response Team, a roving team of officers that supplements the department’s prime crime-suppression program: Operation Impact. The program teams new officers with seasoned supervisors to flood areas where crime is surging.
Mr. Kelly said the tragic string of events began when Officer Edwards left duty about 10:30 p.m., approached his car and saw that a man had broken the driver’s side window and was rummaging through the vehicle. The two scuffled, and the man escaped Officer Edwards’s grip by slipping out of his sweater.
A police official said officers at the scene learned that Officer Edwards was a colleague only when they ripped open his shirt in an effort to revive him and saw a Police Academy T-shirt. They then searched his pants pockets and found a badge.
Officer Dunton and his two colleagues in the car that spotted Orfrficer Edwards — one of them a sergeant — were all assigned to the anti-crime unit from the 25th Precinct. Investigators were interviewing the two officers in the car who did not fire at Officer Edwards. The department does not interview officers involved in fatal shootings until a prosecutor determines whether criminal charges will be brought.
The man who apparently broke into Officer Edwards’s car, Miguel Santiago, was also being interviewed by investigators, officials said. The police said his five previous arrests include charges of robbery, assault and drug violations.
There have been at least two cases of off-duty police officers being shot by colleagues in the New York region in recent years.
In January 2008, a Mount Vernon officer, Christopher A. Ridley, 23, was killed by Westchester County police officers in downtown White Plains as he tried to restrain a homeless man whom he had seen assault another person.
And in February 2006, a New York City officer, Eric Hernandez, 24, was fatally shot by a fellow officer while responding to a 911 call about a fight at a White Castle restaurant in the Bronx.
Thursday night’s shooting occurred near the approach to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough).
Maalik Lane, 20, was waiting for a bus nearby at 125th Street and Third Avenue when, he said, he heard more than five gunshots.
“I saw police, up to 20 police cars,” driving by at high speeds, said Mr. Lane, who lives on Wards Island. “I was, like, someone is having a shootout with police. The bus driver said, ‘Somebody shot the police.’”
Mr. Lane added, “I feared for my life.”
Just before 1 a.m. Friday, the ambulance parking bay at the hospital had been roped off, with six police officers standing sentry. More than a dozen officers, some in uniform, others in plain clothes, paced and waited for news.
After the news conference, about 3 a.m., officers left the hospital, several in tears and consoling one another.
Mitchell L. Blumenthal, Jason Grant, Jennifer Mascia and Mathew R. Warren contributed reporting.
Here Speeder, Speeder, Speeder
"Oderint dum metuant" - Caligula
"How come you only call me when someone's dead?"
05-29-09, 12:32 PM #2
Prayers to the family and NYPD-=Twan007
Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
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05-29-09, 01:27 PM #3
Prayers and thoughts to all involved and to the NYPD"An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper
Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!
"Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
" I believe that forgiving them (Terrorist) is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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05-29-09, 02:06 PM #4
Sharpton is concerned about cops, eh?
Horseshit - he saw a chance to get his face on the news.I'm your huckleberry...
Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!
You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.
I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
but every girl I found was either one way or the other...
05-29-09, 03:22 PM #5Swamp Mafia
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else.
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05-29-09, 04:52 PM #6
Damn.Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
05-29-09, 05:13 PM #7
Thoughts and prayers to the family and officers involved.
P.S. Fuck you Al Sharpton for making this a race issue.
05-29-09, 07:57 PM #8
A terrible situation. Thoughts and prayers to NYPD officers and the families affected by this.
Sharpton: go crawl back under the rock of irrelevance.Be kind, be courteous . . .
and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
05-29-09, 10:27 PM #9The true measure of your character is what you choose to do when you think no one is looking.
05-30-09, 05:53 PM #10
Escobedo should be ashamed of what he did that night. DUI and Felony Evading a LEO. If it wasn't for his actions, this particular incident would have never happened.
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
05-30-09, 06:47 PM #11
Sharpton can go to hell for his knee-jerk conclusions before investigators have even had time to figure out what happened.
To the NY Time's credit, I'm glad that the story mentions the policy issues involved, so at this point, I'm sure it's entirely unclear who was at fault.
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05-30-09, 06:56 PM #12
Sharpton is an idiot. Saying any more than that would get me branded as a hate-monger.
05-30-09, 08:19 PM #13
Trumpet Call, As The Sun, Sinks In Fright
Sleep In Peace ,Comrade Dear
GOD is Near
Rest in peace , Ofc. Edwards. Condolences to family, friends and colleagues.SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM-Ex-Sheriff Martin Howe to Will Kane in "High Noon"
"It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
Far from being a handicap to command, compassion is the measure of it. For unless one values the lives of his soldiers and is tormented by their ordeals , he is unfit to command.
-General Omar Bradley, United States Army
05-30-09, 08:23 PM #14
Rest in peace.
05-30-09, 09:07 PM #15
What a tragedy...RIP...and thoughts to NYPD" The warrior who honors the shield says, WHEN it happens, I will be ready...." Lt. Col. Grossman (Live... 9-11-07)
05-31-09, 04:49 AM #16
This is a good reminder to be careful about what you get involved with off duty. Without the uniform we can be easily mistaken for the bad guys with a gun in our hands.
RIP brother!Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.
That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.
If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.
I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones
Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman
05-31-09, 08:38 AM #17
Such a terrible thing to have happen. Horrible for both the families and the PD.
Sharpton needs to go back from where he came and STFU.Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way" ~Martin Luther King, Jr
06-03-09, 09:26 PM #18
06-06-09, 03:38 AM #19
If not for being understaffed, I would have attended Officer Edward's funeral. He will be missed.
Not to hijack the thread, but here's an article showing that the other officers and the suspect that Officer Edwards was chasing, all point to this being a case of mistaken identity. Police must make life or death decisions in a split second, and I believe I would have made the same choice if I were in Officer Dunton's place. Undoubtedly he will live with regret and heartache over the results of his action, and he deserves our sympathy for doing what he was trained to do.
I hope that something positive comes from this tragedy. The training for off-duty encounters is a step in the right direction. NYC is a difficult city to work in. You will run into members of numerous agencies, both uniformed and plainclothes. Those officers have varying training and department policies.
New York City police officer fatally shot by friendly fire - 5/30/09 - New York News and Tri-State News - 7online.com
A deadly encounter between two officers
Saturday, May 30, 2009 | 11:52 AM
EAST HARLEM (WABC) -- New details have emerged regarding the deadly shooting of Officer Omar Edwards on Thursday night.
The fatal shooting happened around 10:45 p.m. Thursday evening, on East 125th Street, between First and Second Avenues in East Harlem.
According to police, shortly before 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, Officer Edwards, 25, left PSA 5 through the back door on East 124th Street between Second and Third Avenues and walked to his car, a late-model Nissan, which was parked a few car lengths north of 124th Street on the east side of Second Ave.
As Officer Edwards crossed Second Avenue, police said he began to run towards his parked car and then engaged in a struggle with Miguel Santiago, 43, who had allegedly broken into Officer Edwards' car, smashing the driver-side window. A video camera from a nearby construction site captured Officer Edwards running across Second Avenue and engaging Santiago.
As the two men struggled, investigators said Santiago slipped out of his black Modell's uniform shirt, with the word "STAFF" on the back. Santiago ran north on Second Avenue and eastbound, kitty-corner to East 125th Street, running across 125th Street from south to north, with Officer Edwards in close pursuit. Officer Edwards was in plain clothes. Police said he had taken out his gun, a Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter.
At the same time, a 25th Precinct Anti-Crime team with a sergeant and two officers had just turned west from 1st Avenue onto 125th Street. As their vehicle approached the middle of the block, Santiago ran in front of the unmarked car and continued running east on 125th Street. The Anti-Crime team stopped and all three officers got out as Officer Edwards ran in front of the car.
The shooting officer, who was in the front passenger seat, got out of the car and shouted at Officer Edwards to stop and drop the gun. According to the sergeant and the non-shooting officer, the shooting officer yelled, "Police, stop&drop the gun, drop the gun."
Santiago told investigators that he saw three men with police shields around their necks get out of the grey, unmarked car and heard one of them yell, "Police, drop the gun."
The officer driving the car said that, after hearing the command, he saw Officer Edwards turn, with the gun still in his hand, toward the shooting officer. The sergeant said he also saw Officer Edwards turn toward the shooting officer, identified as Officer Andrew Dunton.
At that point, police said Dunton fired six times from a Glock 9-millimeter, striking Officer Edwards three times - once in the left arm (in and out), once in the left side (bullet is lodged in right abdomen), and once in the left back (bullet is lodged in the chest).
Edwards and Dunton were approximately 15 feet apart. Six shell casings from the shooting officer's gun were recovered at the scene.
ESU officers responded to the scene at 10:31 p.m. and rendered aid to Officer Edwards. In cutting off his outer garment they discovered he was wearing a Police Academy t-shirt. That's when they checked his clothing further and found his police shield and ID in his front left pants pocket.
Officer Edwards was transported to Harlem Hospital at 10:37 p.m. He was pronounced at 11:21 p.m.
Investigators interviewed five eyewitnesses and 20 ear-witnesses, who reported hearing gunshots. One of the eyewitnesses said he saw Officer Edwards chasing Santiago across 125th Street, heard yelling, and shots being fired. He could not make out what the yelling was. That witness is being re-interviewed today to determine whether he witnessed any portion of the police-involved shooting.
All three officers have been assigned to administrative duties, and the investigation continues. There has been no determination at this time whether the shooting was within Departmental guidelines.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it a "sad night for the city, NYPD and all New Yorkers."
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the terrible confusion of the moment had deadly consequences. Edwards is a black police officer and the officer who shot him is white. The officer who fired the shots has been identified by a police official as Andrew Dunton.
Dunton, 30, is a four-year veteran of the NYPD and part of the anti-crime unit.
On Friday, lawmakers and residents debated whether race played in the shooting even as the NYPD is the most diverse it's ever been.
"I think they just saw a guy with a gun. How's that cop (who shot him) supposed to know" he was a police officer, said Carmen Romero, who was on her way to work Friday from a nearby housing project. On the other hand, she said, it could have been because the cop was black.
Phyllis Tate, talking with another customer in a shop near the scene of the shooting, wondered how to identify officers if they're not in uniform.
"I don't feel this was a racial thing. They can't be running around out here in plainclothes with their guns drawn. The shooter was acting like an officer. The victim was acting like an officer also," she said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said he got calls shortly after the shooting "from black officers who were at the precinct and were alarmed by the shooting of Omar Edwards." The civil rights activist said he is concerned about "a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals."
Sharpton called for a federal investigation.
"Can police investigate themselves fairly and impartially? It would seem very difficult at best and unlikely in fact," he said. Browne wouldn't comment on the race issue.
The 25-year-old Edwards joined the department in July 2007, and his family said he always wanted to be a cop.
"He was a wonderful, wonderful child from when he was small," said his father, Ricardo Edwards.
Omar Edwards lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn with his new wife and two small children, but was assigned to the Impact Response Team, a roving team of officers that helps flood higher-crime areas with officers. Edwards also played defensive tackle for the NYPD football team last year but took this season off to get married.
"His desire was always to be a policeman and to play football; and he did accomplish both because he plays for the Police Department," said his uncle, Jerome Harding.
His friends and family are very distraught by his tragic death.
His father-in-law said he died doing what he loved to do.
"It's a terrible tragedy...a 25-year-old police officer dedicated his life to protect the rest of us is dead...there's nothing we can say that will bring him back," said Mayor Bloomberg.
On Friday, purple and black bunting hung in front of the police station, and several vigils were held for the family. More were planned for the weekend. The NYPD changed its on-the-job training for June to confrontations between officers.
The shooting recalled other cases of off-duty policemen being shot and killed by fellow officers.
In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains.
In 2006, a New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to an attack at a White Castle in the Bronx.
The last New York City police officer killed in the line of duty was Russel Timoshenko. The 23-year-old officer was shot during a traffic stop in Brooklyn in July 2007.
Earlier in 2007, a gunman shot and killed two unarmed auxiliary police officers, Nicholas T. Pekearo, 28, and Yevgeniy Marshalik, 19, in Greenwich Village.
About the Anti-Crime Unit:
They work in plain clothes and their primary responsibility is to disrupt crime trends.
The officers may follow a suspect around for two to there three hours if they are suspicious the person will commit a crime.
Anti-crime officers are usually selected for their observational skills. ---
NYPD Patrol Guide Procedure
The Associated Press contributed to this report."never bring paws to a gunfight" - Jenna
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