“He Was a Hero Who Protected the People”

NYPD rookie remembered as dedicated cop

A rookie police officer mistakenly killed by friendly fire was remembered today as a consummate cop and loving father, a conscientious and driven young man who dreamed of joining the department his whole life.

Thousands of officers in crisp dress blues lined up five-deep for blocks outside the Brooklyn funeral for Omar J. Edwards, 25, killed a week ago as he was leaving his tour at a Harlem housing bureau.

The mayor and police commissioner delivered eulogies to the fallen rookie cop.

"One week ago, the life of this wonderful young man, a life so full and so promising, was cut short in a few deadly seconds," Mayor Bloomberg said.

"He was a hero who protected the people of the greatest city in the world -- and we’ll never forget him," the mayor added.

In his eulogy, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly extended his condolences to Edwards' parents; his wife, Danielle; and their two children, 18-month-old Xavier and 7-month-old Keanu.

The 25-year-old was in street clothes on May 28 when he chased a man who broke into his car in East Harlem. Police said plainclothes officers ordered the pair to halt. When Edwards turned toward them with his gun out, one of the officers shot him.

"The crime set in motion a tragic chain of events which we are doing everything in our power to understand," Kelly said. "We owe Omar's family our deepest sympathy, our everlasting loyalty.''

Edwards was assigned to the Harlem housing bureau as part of a select roving unit of newer officers sent to certain areas for extra help.

Edwards' commanding officer and Chief of Housing, Joanne Jaffe, emotionally talked about the impact of this loss. She remembered the dreams and hard work of a young man who hadn't even been with the force two years, but had already been promoted to serve not only one precinct but all of Manhattan.

"He wanted to be a police officer since he was five years old," she said outside of Our Lady of Victory church.

Special spots were reserved along the tree-lined street for fellow housing police officers and the NYPD football team. Officers, including New Jersey state troopers and Nassau County police officers, stood at attention on both sides of the street near Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church for about 10 blocks.
A police motorcycle escort, followed by a procession of bagpipes, lead the casket and family members in the church.

Edwards' partner, Officer Michael Muskin, explained he is going to get through the day by leaning on his fellow officers.

"I couldn't believe it. To find that out was heartbreaking," Muskin said after finding out about his partner's death.

Edwards is being posthumously promoted to detective, which will allow his family better death benefits.

The tragedy has prompted an outcry from U.S. Sen Charles Rangel and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, who claim race played a factor in the shooting. Dunton is white; Edwards was black.

"I promise you all that we’ll do everything possible to learn from this awful tragedy," Bloomberg said.

District Attorney Robert Morgenthau spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time Wednesday, saying he'll be able to impartially lead the investigation into the shooting.

"I investigated the last shooting of a black officer by a white officer in Manhattan, indicted the shooter and sent him to prison," Morgenthau said. "So there should be no doubt the chips will fall where they may (in the current case)."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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