Police officers are occasionally forced to make split-second choices about the use of force, sometimes with tragic results. The results are rarely so tragic as in the case of the late Officer Omar Edwards, killed in the line of duty by a fellow police officer.
"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.
Although Police sources and the Daily News have described Edwards as, "off-duty," it should be noted that Edwards was chasing a suspected car thief at the time of his death. Question whether, had it been Edwards forced to use his weapon against a suspected car thief who turned on him brandishing a shiny piece of metal, he would have been described as "off-duty" or not.
[Omar 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."
Unfortunately, the elder Mr. Edwards is mistaken. All too often officers use force, sometimes extreme force, against people who carry shiny metal objects that aren't dangerous at all, such as unbladed box cutters, or digital cameras, or ambulances. In the case of a black man carrying a weapon while not wearing a blue uniform, it's surprising that only six shots had to be fired.
To the credit of the New York Police Department, the car thief was apprehended without the use of deadly force.