Detectives' Endowment Association, Inc. — Paul DiGiacomo, President

The DEA Honor Roll

Official Line of Duty Deaths

Omar J. J. Edwards

Omar Edwards

Rank: Detective First Grade

Shield Number: 7347

Command: Housing Bureau, Manhattan Impact Response Team

Date of Death: 05/28/2009

Cause of Death: Accidentally shot by responding Officers while pursuing a subject off-duty.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on May 28, 2009, off-duty P.O. Omar J. Edwards, dressed in street clothing, was walking towards his parked car on Second Avenue between 124th and 125th Streets in Manhattan’s East Harlem, when he spotted a man trying to break into his Nissan Maxima. Edwards gave chase while drawing his shield and gun.

Two anti-crime Officers from the 25th Precinct mistook the rookie cop for a perp. After shouts of, “Police! Drop it!,” Edwards reportedly turned, gun in hand. The cops opened fire. Bullets struck Edwards three times: in the left arm, side, and back; injuring his heart, left lung, and lodging in his chest.

Within seconds, more cops responded to the gunshots. When they approached Edwards, who was lying on the sidewalk, they noticed his shield and were shocked and horrified to learn they had mistakenly killed one of their own. Edwards was taken to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Anti-crime cops arrested the actual car thief before he could flee. Miguel Goitia, age 40, who had a number of aliases and a record of property crimes in Connecticut, confessed to breaking the window of Edwards’ car with a spark plug and reaching inside to look for something to steal. He was indicted and charged with felony criminal mischief in the third degree, and two misdemeanors: auto stripping in the third degree, and attempted petty larceny. On September 16, 2009, Miguel Goitia, the thief who set off the tragic set of events that lead to the death of Omar Edwards, pled guilty in criminal court; and on October 21, 2009, Goitia was sentenced to one-and-a-third years in prison.

Because Officer Edwards was African-American and the Officer who opened fire was White, the media tenor of the shooting immediately turned from personal Department tragedy to public political debate; and questions were raised as to whether race remains a factor in shootings that involve plainclothes, undercover, or off-duty police. A flood of press followed the tragedy and many articles regarding the case can still be found online. The Officer who made the fatal error of shooting Edwards was described as being emotionally “devastated.”

Twenty-five-year-old Edwards, described by teammates as “the nicest guy in the world,” was passionate about football and was number “23,” a defensive back, on the NYPD Finest Football Team in 2007 and 2008. As a newlywed, his devotion to his wife and two infants prompted him to sit out the 2009 season. Team president Stephen McAllister told The New York Times, “he wasn’t the biggest guy, but he was tough. He had a big heart. It’s a tough, tough loss.”

Omar Edwards was born in Panama, but his family immigrated to the United States when he was an infant, and he grew up and still lived in the Stuyvesant Heights area of Brooklyn, in an apartment just across the hall from his mother. He was a Boy Scout Law Enforcement Explorer as a teenager and always aspired to be a cop, hoping to make a difference in his community. Despite his short time on the force, he effected at least 24 arrests. He was widely respected for his integrity and his judgment. He often encouraged suspects to turn their lives around.

Edwards, who was assigned to the Housing Bureau’s PSA #5 area, Manhattan Impact Response Team, was promoted posthumously to Detective First Grade on May 28, 2009. He is buried at the St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York.

Det. First Grade Edwards’ was survived by his wife (whose father was also an NYPD Police Officer) and two sons who were aged one-and-a-half and seven months at the time of their father’s death. His sons, said his father-in-law, “meant everything” to Edwards, who also was devoted to his career.

“Omar really loved being a Police Officer,” his father-in-law said. “Every time we got together, the only way to get him to stop talking about being a Police Officer was to talk about the Giants.” Edwards’ aunt was also a 20-year veteran of the NYPD.

On May 28, 2019, PSA #5 dedicated a tree and bench in Det. Edwards’ memory. On May 28, 2021, PSA #5 also renamed what was Dream Street Park at East 124 Street between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan in honor of Det. Edwards.


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