It’s been more than six months since off duty New York City Police Officer Omar Edwards, a black man, was gunned down by a white police officer in East Harlem.
The fatal shooting sparked outrage from critics who charged that non white police officers are at greater risk of being shot by another member of the force in a case of mistaken identity, than a white officer.
“It is a serious question to many of us that if Mr. Edwards had not been an African-American would the assumption have been that he had been pursuing a crime, when he in fact had been stopping a crime,” said Reverend Al Sharpton.
Sharpton’s remarks were directed at a special task force created by Governor David Paterson to examine so-called friendly-fire police shootings.
Sharpton called for the creation of a special prosecutor’s office to investigate police matters involving both civilians and other police.
Others testifying tried to draw connections between the way police officers interact with African-American and Latino New Yorkers and the recent police on police shooting. They called for a dialing down of tensions and for police officers to treat all New Yorkers with respect.
“What I believe is the hostility shown on a day to day basis on street corners around stop and frisks, the subjective arrest of people is a low burning fire that escalates in situations where guns are introduced, such as a police-on-police shooting,” said The Brotherhood/Sister Sol Co-founder Khary Lazarre-White.