Remembering Officer Slain in Case of Mistaken Identity

Exactly two years after Omar J. Edwards, a New York police officer, was fatally shot in East Harlem by another officer, officials gathered on Saturday to rename the street outside his old station house in his honor.

Flanked by relatives of Officer Edwards and others, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said the section of the street outside Police Service Area No. 5, at 221 East 123rd Street, would now be known as Detective Omar J. Edwards Way.

“Two years ago today, Omar lost his life not far from here,” Mr. Kelly said, in remarks delivered at the ceremony. “He was taking police action when he was shot and killed by another officer’s fire. We lost a gifted police officer, full of promise. A devoted husband, father and son, a generous, courageous human being.”

The accidental shooting of Officer Edwards, who was black, by a plainclothes colleague, Andrew P. Dunton, who was white, proved to be a difficult chapter for the Police Department. It reignited concerns among public officials and community activists about race relations and stereotypes in the force. As a result, the department surveyed undercover officers about their experiences in highly charged confrontations and sought suggestions from groups like the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Guardians Society.

Some of those suggestions led to more intensive training for both recruits and experienced officers in defusing confrontations between on- and off-duty officers, whether in uniform or plainclothes, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

He said Mr. Kelly had posthumously promoted Officer Edwards to detective.

On that May night two years ago, Officer Edwards, assigned to the Housing Bureau’s Impact Response Team, had just gotten off duty, according to accounts. He was walking toward his car, parked on Second Avenue near 124th Street, when he saw a man identified as Miguel Goitia, breaking into it. The two scuffled, and Mr. Goitia slipped from the officer’s grasp and ran. Officer Edwards, who witnesses said had a gun in his hand, chased after him.

Three anticrime officers in an unmarked car, one of them Officer Dunton, saw the men running. They, too, saw Officer Edwards’s gun. At one point, Officer Edwards turned toward the officers in such a way that his gun was pointing at them, and Officer Dunton fired.

Officer Dunton and the others did not realize Officer Edwards was a colleague until they cut open his shirt as he lay on the pavement and saw a Police Academy T-shirt and found his police badge in a pocket, officials said.

A Manhattan grand jury voted not to indict Officer Dunton.

In his remarks, Mr. Kelly noted how Officer Edwards had dreamed of becoming a police officer since he was a boy.

“At the age of 10, he became a member of the 73rd Precinct’s youth council, where his mother served as president,” Mr. Kelly added.

“Years later, as a police officer, Omar’s first assignment was in Police Service Area 2, in the same Brooklyn neighborhood where he’d grown up and where he lived with his wife and sons. At work, Omar was a natural at connecting with the individuals he encountered especially the young people. Even when making an arrest, he’d encourage young suspects to turn their lives around,” the commissioner said.

The renaming of the street was sponsored by Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and approved by the City Council.

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