NEW YORK — A New York City policeman who fatally shot another officer on a dark street in Harlem will not face criminal charges, the Manhattan district attorney announced Thursday.
After hearing from 20 witnesses and examining 68 documents, a grand jury voted not to indict Officer Andrew Dunton in the May 28 shooting of Officer Omar Edwards, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.
Edwards, 25, was off duty and in street clothes when he chased a man who had broken into his car.
Dunton and other plainclothes officers patrolling nearby noticed the two men and ordered them to halt. When Edwards turned toward them with his gun out, Dunton shot him.
Because Edwards was black and Dunton is white, some civil rights advocates have charged that race was a factor in the shooting.
Sharpton, mother, continue fight
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Thursday that the decision was expected, as grand juries rarely indict officers in friendly fire shootings.
"We will continue to call on the governor to authorize a special prosecutor in this case," Sharpton said.
Edwards' mother, Natalia Harding, said in a television interview that she believed Dunton shot her son because he was black.
"I would like to see him go to jail," Harding said.
Dunton, 30, has been on administrative duty since the shooting. He may still face an internal police department disciplinary review.
The department had no immediate comment on the grand jury's decision. A spokesman for the police union said the union would have no comment.
Shooting followed car chase
According to the district attorney, Edwards was walking to his car in East Harlem and noticed the driver's-side window was broken. and a man was leaning inside rifling through items on the front seat. Edwards drew his gun and grabbed the man's shoulder with his left hand, Morgenthau said. A struggle ensued and the man ran. Edwards chased him, gun in hand.
Three officers in an unmarked car spotted the two men. They saw that the pursuer had a gun in his hand and pulled over.
According to the district attorney, Dunton got out of the car and yelled, "Police, don't move. Drop the gun. Drop the gun."
Edwards slowed but did not stop, turned and pointed his gun at Dunton, Morgenthau said.
Dunton fired six shots, mortally wounding Edwards. The man, later identified as Miguel Goitia, was arrested and charged in the case.
Emergency service officers arrived and tried to revive Edwards. It was only when they cut his sweatshirt open and saw his Police Academy T-shirt that they realized he was an officer.
Department revamps its training
Following the shooting, the NYPD revamped its training on confrontations with other officers.
"I promise you we will do everything possible to learn from this tragedy," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told mourners at Edwards' funeral.
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