Sunday, May 31, 2009

THE BRIEFING: Was it About Race?

We caught this story a few days ago. Thought it was crazy. One of our blog followers hit us up with his thoughts on the situation. Some may agree or disagree with his his perspective of the situation. We thought that we would present both sides.

So, to bring you up to speed as reported in the NY Times …

An off-duty rookie cop chasing a suspected car thief in East Harlem with his gun drawn was shot and killed Thursday night when an officer mistook him for a criminal.

"Police! Stop! Drop it!" cops from the 25th Precinct shouted at Omar Edwards, 25.

As he started to turn toward him - the gun still in his hand - an officer opened fire, sources said.

The officer involved in the shooting is white, Edwards is black and had no visible NYPD identification on him, sources said. It was unclear if Edwards identified himself.

"This is always a black cop's fear, that he'd be mistaken for a [suspect]," a source said.
His 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."

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Edwards, who had been on the force less than two years and worked out of a Manhattan housing unit, had left work about 10:30 p.m.

He was in street clothes as he walked toward his car parked about a block away on Second Ave. between E. 124th and E. 125th St., where he saw Miguel Goitia rummaging through the vehicle. The driver's side window was busted out.

Edwards grabbed Goitia, who managed to slip out of his sweater and escape Edwards' grip, Kelly said.

Gun drawn, Edwards gave chase.

At the same time, three plainclothes officers in an unmarked car saw Edwards running down the street. The car made a U-turn, and one of the officers, a white cop with more than four years on the job, got out and fired six shots - hitting Edwards twice, once in the left arm and once in the chest, Kelly said.
Edwards did not fire his weapon.

Cops discovered Edwards was one of them when rescue crews cut open his shirt to treat the bleeding and saw a police academy shirt. They then searched his pockets and found his shield, sources said.

So, here is another perspective from one of our blog followers …

Everything is Race, right? I know Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson are going to have a say on this, just as soon as they can get one of their party members to create a speech in which Race is the primary thought.

Any officer, in pursuit of a man being chased by another with a gun drawn would've done what in the essence of saving someone's life? Okay, shooting at the torso was a bit much maybe, but hey, the guy had his gun drawn.

Who's to say he wasn't going to turn around and fire back? I believe the deciding factors in this case are: "identification as a whole".

Did the off duty officer attempt to identify himself after the other officer fired the first shot? Does the city have a protocol for off duty officers drawing their weapons in public? If so, does it require wearing a vest? Yes it is a sad thing, but as an officer (and I am speaking solely from an opinionated civilian point of view) I believe their reaction in this is solely upon the individual and his/her judgment.

As far as race, replay the situation but substitute yourself as the triggerman, then ask yourself, "what would I have done?" The City should be held accountable for Protocol of the off duty officer. This has been a Public Service Announcement brought to you by √úberJess and I'm out.

We don’t know if race played a factor or not but New York City Cops have been at the eye of the storm of various controversial shootings. It also raises the question are police sometimes too quick on the draw. This entire incident needs to be examined and perhaps can be a continued learning opportunity. Again, we just wanted to present both sides.

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  1. I don't know, I mean the whole situation is sad. I am half Puerto Rican and half Irish so I have always kinda been caught in the middle. I can kinda see both sides of everything in a way, but at the same time I have never been able to understand how race even comes into play when making decisions. I can't really understand how someone would say to themselves "oh look, there's a black man running down the street with a gun, fuck protocol, I'm gonna shoot him because he is black." So I like to think that in situations like this, the rookie cop didn't clearly identify himself, but then again, that's just me. It's hard because I don't want to think that race had a role in the other cop's judgment but at the same time.. It very well might have.

    It's such a tragedy. Sad sad sad.

  2. Anonymous12:48 AM

    Living in NYC, the NYPD are notorious for treating black people (especially in the poor neighborhoods), like shit. Notice, I said "the NYPD"... Because it could be a black cop, hispanic cop or white cop. So I believe it was race related absolutely... it just happened to be a fellow officer.