Posted by: vote4claxton | August 20, 2009

MARQUEZ CLAXTON CALLS ON GOVERNOR PATTERSON TO AUTHORIZE INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF POLICE SHOOTING CASES

 New York Amsterdam News                                                                                                            

Omar Edwards shooter not indicted

By CYRIL JOSH BARKER
Amsterdam News Staff

Published: Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:23 PM EDT

The white police officer accused in the shooting death of a Black officer during a so-called “friendly fire” incident will not be indicted. 

 

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced Thursday that a New York County grand jury voted no affirmative action against Officer Andrew Dunton for the May 28 shooting of Officer Omar Edwards.

According to Morgenthau’s office, the grand jury heard from 20 police, medical and civilian witnesses along with examining 68 documents.

Edwards, 25, was in plain clothes when Dunton, 30, shot him. Edwards was chasing after a man who was attempting to steal items in his car. Edwards chased the man to 125th Street and First Avenue.

Plain-clothes officers from the 25th Precinct patrolling the area saw two men running down the street. Dunton saw that Edwards had a gun, not knowing he was an officer. The district attorney’s office reports that Dunton identified himself as an officer before firing six shots at Edwards. A bullet wound to the chest that penetrated his back killed him. When detectives arrived on scene, Edwards’ sweatshirt was cut open, revealing a police academy T-shirt.

Edwards had been on the force for 22 months and was married with two children.

Natalie Harding, Edwards’ mother, said Dunton should go to jail because he could do the same thing again. At a press conference earlier this week in front of her Ocean Hill home, Harding said she doesn’t want anyone else to go through what she’s experienced.

“I don’t want to see my son’s death go in vain,” she said.“ And neither would I like to see another mother suffering the way I am now.”

Also at the press conference, several groups, including 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement and the Latino Officers Association, called on Gov. David Paterson to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting.

Paterson created a task force that will look into the issue off friendly fire shootings involving the police. Marquez Claxton of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance said the decision was “disturbingly predicable.”

“It’s very troubling that every time this happens, people lose confidence in the justice system,” Claxton said. “You have individuals who are in authority to change the system.” Claxton is referring to Paterson, who he said previously authorized legislation calling for independent prosecution of police involved shootings while in the State Senate. Now that Paterson is governor, Claxton said, he’s not following through on previous decisions.

In 1999, then Senate Majority Leader Paterson protested during the Amadou Diallo shooting. Paterson was arrested for disorderly conduct along with the Rev. Al Sharpton. Nearly 10 years later, he condemned Sharpton’s massive citywide protest after the Sean Bell verdict, openly saying that he did not approve of the demonstration.

“The major problem is not police-on-police shootings. The bigger problem is the innocent shootings of Blacks and Latinos,” Claxton said. “There should’ve been a task force set up for that. Race is the real issue. The NYPD shouldn’t be investigating the NYPD.” In late June, Paterson established the Police-on-Police Shootings Task Force and said issues of race would be looked at. Harvard University criminal justice professor Christopher Stone chairs the task force.

“The primary objective of this task force is to ensure that no police officer falls victim to these circumstances ever again because the implications for our families and our communities are simply too devastating,” Paterson said.

Copyright © 2009 – New York Amsterdam News
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