“Kelly must go!”
After hosting a series of ongoing meetings with a variety of law enforcement groups, Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, told the Amsterdam News that there is a strong sentiment that “the buck has got to stop somewhere”–namely, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bull pen at City Hall and Commissioner Ray Kelly’s office at One Police Plaza. As he is funeralized this week, the fallout from the police slaying of Black police officer Omar Edwards coats the city.
After sitting down with organizations such as 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, Latino Officer’s Association and the Guardians, Sharpton said, “The consensus that they are all coming out with is, ‘Kelly must go.’ We will make an announcement on Friday.”
The NYPD would not comment.
Last Thursday night, May 28,just after getting off duty, Officer Edwards spotted a man breaking into his car in Harlem. Gun drawn, he chased the man, Miguel Santiago, across East 125th Street at Second Avenue. At the same time, an anti-crime unit came upon the scene. What happened over the next few minutes has yet to be truly verified. The police department now says that Santiago and at least two other people said Officer Andrew Dunton yelled that he was a cop, that Edwards turned around with gun in hand and Dunton shot him dead.
At least one of the bullets was to the back, however. No “contagious shooting” this time, a la Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell: Dunton fired his weapon, Sgt. John Anzelino and Officer John Musante did not.
A police source told the AmNews that shooter Andrew Dunton and his accompanying sergeant were previously placed on “force monitoring” and should not have been on the street at all.
The police department emphatically denied the charge. “The NYPD has a force monitoring program, which closely monitors officers who have been involved in an inordinate amount of incidents where force or complaints of unnecessary force was employed,” Paul Browne, deputy commissioner of public information, said in an e-mailed response to an AmNews enquiry.
“None of the officers in this incident was under force monitoring. The shooting officer had not been involved in any prior shooting.”
The NYPD did not respond to an additional AmNews request for information about complaints against Dunton.
But Sgt. Anzelino was also involved in the March 13, 2007, fatal shooting of Corey Mickens, 26, inside Cafe 22 on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Harlem. The police source told the AmNews that Dunton did indeed have several complaints against him, and that both “he and the sergeant were red-flagged and should not have been out on the streets.”
Retired detective Marquez Claxton offered, “The complete complaint and disciplinary history of the police officers involved in this shooting should be released immediately. A big question is whether any of these officers were or should have been under special monitoring for excessive complaints. The closed-shop, backdoor maneuvering and misdirection by the NYPD is compromising the integrity of this investigation and eroding the public trust.” Saying that the NYPD is misrepresenting basic facts, Claxton, co-founder of The Black Law Enforcement Alliance, continued, “The fact that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated that P.O. Omar Edwards was shot in the chest when in fact he was shot in the back magnifies the need for an independent investigation into this shooting. If you can’t trust the police commissioner to state the truth, you can’t trust this police department to conduct the investigation. Ray Kelly must be compelled to supply the source for his initial statement that threatens to compromise the integrity of the investigation.”
“These killer cops don’t need retraining; they need jail,” charged City Councilman Charles Barron. “The signal that white cops can kill us with impunity comes from Bloomberg and Kelly. Where is their genuine outrage? These are young fathers and husbands who are being slain. All Black and Latino leaders and people of goodwill should call for Kelly’s resignation. I believe we would have saved lives if we had removed Kelly after the police killing of young Timothy Stansbury, Ousmane Zongo or Sean Bell.
“At least 135 people have been killed during Kelly’s tenure as police commissioner, and that’s according to Stolen Lives, who monitor the numbers nationwide.”
To all those falling over themselves trying to convince folk that race or racism is not a fac tor in this latest police shooting, Sharpton states, “You cannot explain why there has never been a white police officer shot by a Black, Latino or Asian officer. We didn’t bring race into this; we raised facts. If race is not the reason for all these shootings of Black cops by white cops, then what is the reason?”
“There is no question that race is a factor,” Cong. Charles Rangel told the AmNews. “I have drafted the letter to Eric Holder, the attorney general. I am asking him to look at this on a national level. We’ve had half a dozen incidents where African-American officers–on or off duty–have been shot by white officers. You can’t eliminate this serious problem if you say race is not an issue.” Rangel added, if such shootings occur “in other major cities, we need to have standardized training nationally.”
John Holt was shot by two white cops in February 1940. The Amsterdam News report about the killing, the city’s response and the funeral coverage could have been written this week by any of the AmNews team of reporters covering the Omar Edwards story. Holt was lauded by the media, his action of turning around with a gun in hand was queried, and Mayor F. H. LaGuardia and Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine showed up at the funeral flanked by a host of cops and a variety of clergy.
Seventy years later: different century, same playbook. Bloomberg and Kelly have both visited with Omar Edwards’ family and met with community leaders and assorted religious leaders.
Who is free and clear of suspicion, a police stop or a bullet? asked Barron. Not three-star Police Chief Douglas Zeigler, head of the Community Affairs Bureau;or a nationally known minister, Abyssinian’s Calvin Butts; or 14-year-old Randy Evans; or 66-year-old arthritic grandmother Elinor Bumpers.
“Not a young married father of two who was also a police officer and on his way home to celebrate his wife’s birthday,” Barron said.
“They’re trying not to say that this is racial, but it is,” said Rev. Herbert Daughtry. “In this society, deep in the minds of whites is the feeling of the nothingness of Blackness. They are taught in so many ways to fear and hate Blacks, and so in any situation that they feel gives them the remotest reason for fear–no matter how groundless–they are going to react to their subconscious. You don’t hear about Black officers shooting white children, white women or white men.”
Barron concurred, “It never happens where Black officers shoot white officers. Brothers, y’all need to remember you are armed and licensed, and when you see these white men with guns coming your way in plain-clothes, you’d better protect yourself by any means necessary because the law won’t. This climate is set by Bloomberg and Kelly. Had they taken a zero-tolerance stance after Stansbury, Zongo, Bell or Jayson Tirado, Omar might still be alive. “We, the people, have the power, luckily, to make sure Kelly is fired and Bloomberg is not rehired come November. City leadership is responsible for this.”
As Rangel fires off his letter to AG Holder, he told the AmNews, “We have a president and an attorney general to whom we don’t need to give a primer about the problems in our community. They already know the problems we are dealing with.”