Here we go again. Last night, an off-duty, black NYPD cop, 25-year-old Omar Edwards, was shot and killed by his white colleague, Officer Andrew Dunton.
Edwards, a rookie who worked in a Housing Unit in Harlem, left work and walked up to his car to find a robber breaking in. Edwards tried to grab the guy, who escaped, prompting Edwards to give chase, with gun drawn. He was not in uniform, wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest and left his badge in his pocket. All rookie mistakes, to be sure.
Dunton and two other cops—all three also in plainclothes—saw Edwards running through Harlem with a gun and sped up to him. Dunton hopped out of the car, reportedly yelled “Police! Drop it!” and then, suddenly, fired six shots at Edwards.
Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for an independent investigation; Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling for cool heads and a procedural revue. “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,” Bloomberg said, according to the Daily News.
But Edwards’ father offered THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS a different perspective.
Edwards' father couldn't fathom how such a fatal mistake could happen.
"If a police officer sees someone with a gun, you don't just fire without asking questions or trying to apprehend the person," said Ricardo Edwards, 72. "If the person was firing at a police officer, I understand."
And this is the point. No one but Dunton will ever know whether he fired at Edwards because he saw an armed black man and freaked out. But what’s clear is that he freaked out. Edwards was the rookie. Dunton has more than 4 years on the force. Yet, rather than wait for Edwards to identify himself, it appears he simply started shooting—not once, but six times. This is a pattern for NYPD’s confrontations with black men: Massive, lethal overreactions that turn difficult situations into disastrous ones. And it’s a pattern for police violence against black men nationally. They get scared; we get killed.