City remains calm after shooting of black cop raises fears of racism


New Yorkers anxious for answers in the tragic friendly fire death of an off-duty cop agreed Friday that fixing blame won’t be as simple as black and white.

“We’re hoping that nobody jumps to conclusions on this,” said Bishop S.N. Snipes, one of several clergy members at a memorial prayer vigil in Harlem. “We want to hear both sides.”

The measured response to the Harlem slaying of an off-duty black cop by a white officer was echoed repeatedly – even by the family of the victim, two-year NYPD veteran Omar Edwards.

“Omar got shot for doing his job,” said his teary uncle, Jerome Harding, after visiting Edwards’ widow and two kids. “I’m going to wait for the results of the investigation before saying anything else.”

The cop’s devastated father, Ricardo Edwards, agreed.

“There will be time to talk about punishments,” he said outside his son’s Brooklyn home. “Now is a time to mourn.”

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The Rev. Al Sharpton and city Controller William Thompson were among those calling for an independent investigation of the Thursday night tragedy.

“I think this investigation cannot be left with the local police,” Sharpton said. “We need a fair and impartial investigation, with nobody jumping to conclusions.”

Sharpton said he got a call within 40 minutes of the shooting from a badly shaken black cop who worked with Edwards in the police housing bureau.

“Black police officers are very concerned,” said Sharpton, who will push for an outside probe at a press conference today.

Mayoral candidate Thompson echoed Sharpton about the shooting on a rainy night in Harlem.

“Given the circumstances and many questions surrounding this horrible incident, there must be an independent investigation,” he said.

Along 125th St., where Edwards was shot three times, some voices were less moderate.

“To me, it’s a real, real prejudice with the police,” said Harlem resident Pedro Negron, 47. “I’m very surprised, shocked. I can’t even believe it.”

Readers on the Daily News Web site were divided, although some agreed with Negron.

“I pray to God this family files a wrongful death suit and gets big bucks,” wrote reader Stephanie Manero. “I am sick and tired of having to feel sorry for cops who make ‘mistakes.'”

Kisna Morris, 30, of East Harlem, thought the shooter and victim shared the fault. Edwards was running with his 9-mm. gun drawn when he was shot.

“Both ends should have been a little more trained,” she said.

Retired NYPD detective Carlton Berkley was among the crowd at the Harlem prayer vigil. Berkley, a member of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, was sorrowful over Edwards’ death but sympathetic toward the shooter.

Officers “only have a [fraction] of a second to make a life or death decision,” Berkley said. “We don’t have all the facts, so it’s hard to make a call right now.”


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