- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) | A city police officer mistakenly killed by friendly fire was remembered Thursday 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 uniforms lined up five-deep for blocks outside the Brooklyn funeral for Officer Omar J. Edwards, 25, killed a week ago as he was leaving his tour at a Harlem housing bureau.

In his street clothes, he chased a man who had broken into his car down a dark, rain-slicked street. Plainclothes officers patrolling nearby noticed the pair and ordered them to halt. When Officer Edwards turned toward them with his gun out, one of the officers shot him.

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

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

Officer Edwards is being posthumously promoted to detective, which means his family will get more death benefits.

Even as a child, Officer Edwards wanted to be in the police department. At age 10, he was a member of the 73rd Precinct’s Youth Council. “When he heard the sound of an officer’s radio, he’d listen in and ask what all the codes meant,” Commissioner Kelly said.

He was a curious, steady and attentive student who thrived in the police academy. As an officer, he rooted out drugs and gained the trust of young men and women, Commissioner Kelly said. His compassion and dedication was noticed: The supervisor on his first evaluation have him high marks for judgment, integrity and compassion.

“Even when making an arrest, he’d encourage suspects to turn their lives around,” Commissioner Kelly said.

Officer 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.

On Thursday, special spots were reserved along the tree-lined street for his fellow housing police officers and the NYPD football team, on which he played.

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, led the casket and family members into the church.

The officer who fired at Officer Edwards, Andrew Dunton, and two other officers have been placed on administrative duty as the department investigates.

At the funeral Mass, the Rev. Paul Jervis said Officer Dunton needs their prayers. “He too needs our compassion,” he said.

Officer Edwards was black; the three other officers were white. Several leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, think race is a factor in his death. Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat, called for a thorough investigation but stopped short of saying race was a factor, adding that the shooting was not deliberate.

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