Rangel Demands Federal Review of Cop Shooting

Family, friends mourn slain officer at wake Tuesday

A wake for a black police officer shot dead by a white colleague was held Tuesday as U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel asked the Department of Justice to review the killing.

A letter from Rangel asked Attorney General Eric Holder to study last week's shooting of 25-year-old Omar Edwards and other friendly fire police deaths in major cities across the nation.

The letter, dated Tuesday, said the Manhattan police shooting had rekindled a debate over the adequacy of police training and issues of race in confrontations between officers.

Edwards, of Brooklyn, was killed while chasing a man who broke into his car May 28 in East Harlem.

Edwards, who had just finished his shift and was in street clothes, had his service weapon out when three plainclothes officers on routine patrol yelled for the two to stop running, police said. As Edwards turned toward them, one officer, Andrew Dunton, opened fire and hit Edwards three times, police said.
It wasn't until medical workers were on scene that it was determined Edwards was a police officer, they said.

Rangel has represented his neighborhood of Harlem, East Harlem, the Upper West Side and Washington Heights since 1971.

The powerful lawmaker asked that the federal review of the shooting examine New York Police Department practices, training and “whether and to what extent race was an issue in the tragedy.” He also asked that the nationwide review of friendly fire fatalities evaluate whether the races of the officers involved was a factor.
Gov. David Paterson was scheduled to meet with community leaders Wednesday to discuss Edwards' shooting.

In Brooklyn, scores of uniformed police officers attended Edwards' wake at a funeral home in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Several older black women, patiently supported by younger relatives, were seen entering.
Edwards' body was dressed in a police uniform, and an honor guard stood by his casket, mourners said. Viewing was to continue Wednesday, with a funeral Thursday.

Outside the funeral home, an East Harlem community leader, Edward Gibbs, recalled Edwards as a police officer who talked with local youths instead of interrogating them.
“He was soft-spoken, humble, but well respected,” Gibbs said.

Gregory Willis appeared stunned that the friend with whom he had spent years playing football on Brooklyn's streets was dead.
“I don't think you can put a gun down quick enough if the police see you with it,” said Willis, a civilian.
Retired police officer Carlton Berkley said he didn't know Edwards but was outraged by his killing.
Berkley said he had spent most of his police career in Harlem and said a special prosecutor was needed to investigate the shooting.
“We have absolutely no confidence that the police can police itself in situations like this,” Berkley added.

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