New York City has fewer fatal police shootings per officer than any other large police department in the U.S., the department tells the New York Times. Since 1990, fewer than a half-dozen police officers have been shot by other officers in New York. The police department has consistently tightened rules governing when and how officers should use firearms. But a 25-year-old police officer, Omar Edwards, lies in a city morgue, and his death imposes its own reality. Anguish and tears come accompanied by questions about whether too many officers harbor too many assumptions and fire too quickly, the Times says.
The fatal shooting of Edwards, who was black, by a white officer, shows how the police department still struggles with the problem of fraternal shootings across the color line even though police ranks are more diverse than ever and both training and rules on the use of force more rigorous than in the past. In 1994, after a white officer fired shots into the back of a black undercover transit officer, police commissioner William Bratton acknowledged what seemed painfully obvious to black undercover officers: the department needed to appoint a panel to examine the racial assumptions of their white colleagues. “It's a reality,” Bratton said. “Minority officers are at risk.”