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Merry
May 29th, 2009, 08:26 AM
May 29, 2009

Off-Duty Officer Fatally Shot by Police

By RUSS BUETTNER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/russ_buettner/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and AL BAKER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/al_baker/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

A New York City police officer who had just gotten off duty was fatally shot late Thursday in East Harlem by a fellow officer who mistook him for an armed criminal, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/raymond_w_kelly/index.html?inline=nyt-per) said.

The officer who was killed, Omar J. Edwards, 25, a two-year veteran 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 came upon him chasing a man on East 125th Street between First and Second Avenues with his gun drawn, Mr. Kelly said.

The team’s members, assigned to the anticrime unit in the 25th Precinct, got out of their vehicle and confronted Officer Edwards. The police were investigating whether the officers had identified themselves or demanded that Officer Edwards drop his weapon before one of them opened fire.

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.

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 Michael R. Bloomberg (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/michael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per) 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 is likely to raise 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; the officer who shot him was white.

Mr. Kelly said the tragic string of events began when Officer Edwards, a member of the Housing Bureau Impact Response Team, 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.

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 prior 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 (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/robert_francis_kennedy/index.html?inline=nyt-per) 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.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/nyregion/29cop.html?ref=nyregion

Ninjahedge
May 29th, 2009, 09:31 AM
The team’s members, assigned to the anticrime unit in the 25th Precinct, got out of their vehicle and confronted Officer Edwards. The police were investigating whether the officers had identified themselves or demanded that Officer Edwards drop his weapon before one of them opened fire.


They didn't. One of the cops was jumpy and fired 6 times!

I know that they say it is easy to do that with the adrenaline running, but 6 shots is not very controlled, considering that he MISSED with 4 of them.

I am not passing the Jack-arse judgement no the shooter-cop, but this does not look good for him. Either way, he must feel like crap though, and I feel sorry for all involved (except for the thief, of course).

Merry
May 30th, 2009, 12:02 AM
The shooting is likely to raise 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; the officer who shot him was white.

I know this issue isn't going to disappear anytime soon, but it's still very sad and unfortunate :mad:.

Do black and white (and, indeed, all ethnic groups) officers in the NYPD generally get along OK usually?

Merry
May 31st, 2009, 05:41 AM
May 31, 2009

On Diverse Force, Blacks Still Face Special Peril

By MICHAEL POWELL (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/michael_powell/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Two black police officers stand outside the 70th Precinct station in Brooklyn and consider the disastrous turn of events the night before: an off-duty black officer dead in a Harlem street, felled by the bullets of a white officer who mistook him for a threat.

One runs his hand across his corn-rowed scalp; he is disgusted. “Same deal always,” he says of the deadly encounter between colleagues on Thursday night. “They’ll say it’s about training.”

A block away, a Latino officer with six years on the force acknowledges being conflicted. “Tell you the truth, I feel bad for the shooter. It happens so fast, and now he has got to live with this.” His voice trails off.

At the Newkirk Avenue subway station, a black officer of many years’ experience stares straight ahead. “There’s your training and there’s your reaction,” he says quietly of such split-second tragedies. “That’s two different things.”

Its serried ranks are more diverse than ever, its training and rules on the use of force more rigorous than in the past, yet the New York Police Department still struggles with the problem of fraternal shootings across the color line. Beginning with the first such shooting in 1940, when white officers in Harlem mistook a black officer, John A. Holt Jr., for a burglar and shot him dead in his own apartment building, these relatively rare shootings come attended by an air of political ritual: protesters march, panels are appointed and reforms are most often accepted by police commissioners.

After a white officer shot and killed an undercover detective, William Capers, in 1972, the department drew up guidelines intended to prevent fraternal fire and undercover officers began wearing their badges on strings around their necks.

In 1994, after a white officer fired shots into the back of a black undercover transit officer, Desmond Robinson, the police commissioner, William J. Bratton (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/william_j_bratton/index.html?inline=nyt-per), acknowledged what seemed painfully obvious to black undercover officers — the department needed to appoint a panel to examine the racial assumptions of their white colleagues.

“It’s a reality,” Mr. Bratton said. “Minority officers are at risk.”

New York City has fewer fatal police shootings per officer than any other large police department in the nation, according to a department official. Since 1990, fewer than a half-dozen police officers have been shot by other officers in New York. And the Police Department has consistently tightened rules governing when and how officers should use firearms. But a 25-year-old police officer, Omar J. Edwards (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/nyregion/30officers.html?ref=nyregion), now lies in a city morgue, and his death imposes its own reality. Anguish and tears come accompanied by questions about whether too many officers harbor too many assumptions and fire too quickly.

“This is the most Shakespearean aspect of policing,” said State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn, who is black and a former police captain. “Your greatest fear is to be shot and slain on duty, and that’s only matched by your fear of shooting another officer.”

He added, “If you speak with nine out of 10 officers of color they would tell you that when they hear sirens, in their head they are thinking: ‘I hope these cops know that I’m one of the good guys.’ ”

That worry comes embedded in a paradox: The New York Police Department never has been so diverse. A majority of the cadets in the last rookie police class were members of ethnic and racial minorities, offering a rainbow cross-section of the city itself. Over all, 47.8 percent of the city’s officers are white, 28.7 percent Hispanic, 17.9 percent black and 5.4 percent Asian.

But, replenished although this department is, its very youth and diversity present a challenge. Officer Edwards had been on the force for two years; the officer who shot him, Andrew P. Dunton, had been for 4 ½ years. Younger officers, say their instructors, are more likely to experience surges of judgment-blurring testosterone and adrenaline.

In Officer Edwards’s case, the young, off-duty officer apparently had drawn his weapon and was chasing a man who had tried to break into his car when he encountered his on-duty colleagues, who according to their initial testimony saw his gun, shouted “Police!” and fired when he turned to face them. Such actions might have been in violation of departmental protocols.

“The department has very good training on use of force and firearm simulators,” said Maria Haberfeld, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/j/john_jay_college_of_criminal_justice/index.html?inline=nyt-org) and a specialist in the use of force. “The physiological impact on the officer is great. It’s very detrimental to solid judgment. Your adrenaline is pumping, and your visual skills are impaired.

“It’s not a situation you can replicate in a classroom.”

The city is a measurably safer place than it was two decades ago, when the number of homicides hovered around 2,000 each year. Last year, the city recorded 516 homicides. When former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/rudolph_w_giuliani/index.html?inline=nyt-per) folded the transit and housing police forces into the New York Police Department in the mid-1990s, he eliminated much of the confusion that came with balkanized forces. But particularly for young officers, whose training comes in high-crime precincts, New York City can cast a confusing, even threatening shadow.

Officers, many of whom grew up in segregated neighborhoods, find themselves challenged to remember daily that their own come in every shape and color.

“There was a time if you were a cop you could grab your gun and go into the streets and count on a stereotype to protect you,” said Eugene J. O’Donnell, professor of law and police studies at John Jay and a former officer. “Now the cops look like everybody, and everybody looks like a cop.
“So stereotypes,” he said, “offer no protection at all.”

Sorting out the shooting of one officer by another, not least the role played by race, is complicated. In a few cases, gunman and victim share an ethnicity. In 2006, a gang brawled with an off-duty police officer, Eric Hernandez, at a White Castle restaurant in the Bronx. Officer Alfredo Toro responded to a 911 call and shot Officer Hernandez, not realizing he was a colleague. Officer Hernandez later died.

It “is naïve to assume that our department is driven by racism,” Dr. Haberfeld says. “Your experience will be based on what you encounter, and it’s natural to build up a profile.”

But some black officers and academics counter that this is too easy. “If it was just a mistake, we would see more of these mistakes with officers of different colors,” said Prof. Delores Jones-Brown, director of John Jay’s Center on Race, Crime and Justice (http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/1935.php).

Instinctual judgments about race and crime are woven into the culture of the streets. “We tend to pretend in the police force that we don’t see race, we don’t see ethnicity, but we do,” said Senator Adams, the former police captain. “One of my cops once said that if he sees a non-uniformed black man with a gun, he takes precautions for himself; if he sees a white guy with a gun, he takes precautions for both because he knows it could be a fellow cop.”

Desmond Robinson lived this experience. In 1994, in the confusion of the 53rd Street subway station, he chased a teenager with a gun. Another undercover officer, Peter Del-Debbio (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/peter_deldebbio/index.html?inline=nyt-per), who is white, came from the other direction and fired at Officer Robinson, the last few shots pumped into his back at close range.

Officer Del-Debbio was convicted of second-degree assault and sentenced to five years’ probation. Officer Robinson recovered and left the force.

“Everyone carries baggage subconsciously and retraining the mind takes lots of work,” said Mr. Robinson, who lives in Florida. “There are a lot of black undercovers out there, and officers need to understand that not every black man with a gun is a criminal.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/31/nyregion/31friendly.html?ref=todayspaper

Ninjahedge
June 1st, 2009, 09:58 AM
One runs his hand across his corn-rowed scalp; he is disgusted. “Same deal always,” he says of the deadly encounter between colleagues on Thursday night. “They’ll say it’s about training.”

And they just did. The police commissioner is proposing "new training" to make sure things like this do not happen.

Training? You need NEW training to tell a cop not to shoot another cop?

What they need is for pensions to not be able to be collected until after a certain age (or disability) even after the 25 year mark is hit (retire at 45??!?) and we need to look at how much the top brass is being paid in NYC.

These reductions should be turned BACK around to pay more for the officers and maybe get a better crew to volunteer (I am not saying all are bad, but when the pay stinks, you get who you pay for).