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Long IslandCrime

No criminal charges for NYPD officer who shot fellow cop

A white New York City police officer from Long Island will not face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of an off-duty black policeman on a Harlem street.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Thursday a grand jury had cleared Officer Andrew Dunton, 30, of Ridge, in the May 28 shooting of Officer Omar Edwards, 25.

The panel found Dunton did not realize Edwards - a newlywed and an officer for just 22 months - was a colleague who had drawn his gun to chase a man who had broken into his car.

As Edwards lay dying, a detective found his police shield in his back pocket and a police academy T-shirt under his sweatshirt.

After the shooting, the Police Department updated a training video emphasizing the dangers of police taking action when not in uniform and showed it at roll call.

The grand jury heard testimony from 20 police, medical and civilian witnesses and examined 68 documents.

Dunton could not be reached for comment. The union that represents police had no comment.

The shooting sparked concerns that racial stereotyping might have influenced Dunton's decision to shoot at Edwards on the dark East Harlem street.

Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton said state grand juries rarely indict in such cop shooting cases and again called for a special prosecutor in the case.

"It remains questionable whether this grand jury examined the actions of Officer Dunton or merely the actions of the alleged thief in a confused, mixed presentation," Sharpton said.

Marquez Claxton, 46, of The Black Law Force Alliance, echoed Sharpton's concerns, criticizing Morgenthau's office.

"In a large part, many of the decisions by grand juries such as this one are orchestrated by the Manhattan district attorney's office," Claxton said.

Edwards, who worked for the Housing Bureau's Impact Response Team, was wearing street clothes and had just gotten off duty around 10:30 p.m. when he saw Miguel Goitia breaking into his car, according to police. Goitia ran and Edwards pursued him with his gun in his right hand. Goitia was later charged in the case.

Three plainclothes officers from the Anti-Crime Unit were patrolling in an unmarked car and saw Edwards and Goitia running along 125th Street.

Dunton, Officer John Musante of Rockville Centre and Sgt. John Anzelino of the Bronx were in the car.

Dunton jumped from the car, taking cover behind the front passenger door. Police said he drew his Glock semi-automatic pistol from its holster and yelled, "Police, don't move, drop the gun, drop the gun."

Edwards turned with his gun drawn. Dunton fired six shots, hitting Edwards three times in the back, abdomen and side. Edwards died at Harlem Hospital Center at 11:20 p.m.

Natalia Harding, Edwards' mother, avoided reporters Thursday afternoon as she entered her Brownsville brownstone with friends.

"She's trying to hang in there, hoping that justice will be done," said the Rev. Melvin Davis, 47, one of Harding's neighbors.

Dunton has been on administrative duty since the shooting and could face a Police Department review.

With Daniel Edward Rosen

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