A Black cop’s death at the hands of a White cop in New York this year was no fluke.
About one in six undercover policemen in the city that has the largest number of officers has been mistaken for a criminal, a recent report shows. Results from the review after the May 28 shooting of Omar Edwards, 25, show that Edwards wasn’t the first officer to have a loaded gun pointed at him by a fellow cop. In fact, including Edwards, 10 officers in New York have been killed by fellow cops since 1930.
Edwards, of Brooklyn, was chasing a man on East Harlem's 125th Street after he’d caught the man rummaging through his car. Three officers in another vehicle spotted Edwards, who'd just finished duty, running with his gun drawn. Andrew Dunton, a four-year veteran from Long Island, fired the fatal shots after he reportedly yelled for Edwards to drop the gun. Edwards, instead, turned with his own weapon before he was hit with multiple shots.
A grand jury chose not to indict Dunton in August, calling the shooting an accident, but critics say he may not have pulled the trigger as quickly if Edwards were White.
“We’re not here to play the race card,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told a rally’s crowd after the death. “We’re trying to stop the card from being played on Black law enforcement.”
The recent review showed that, of 200 policemen surveyed, 36 had been confronted at gun-point by other officers. In most cases, the confronted cops followed instructions until their identity was established.
Part of the problem, according to an official explanation, is that undercover officers blend in with criminals to make drug buys and get other evidence. Among measures taken in the wake of Edwards’ death are re-training and having plainclothes officers show up for roll-call with uniformed cops, a police commissioner says. Glowing shield-cases are also being incorporated to help identify cops in the dark.
Edwards was posthumously promoted. He’d recently married and was a dad of two.