Wake, funeral set for slain officer

June 1, 2009 3:24:38 PM PDT
The wake for officer Omar Edwards is set for Tuesday and Wednesday, and his final farewell funeral will take place on Thursday. His tragic death at the hands of another officer has sparked calls for change in the NYPD. There will be a survey to look at the extent of confusion in their dealings with plainclothes officers, and an outside consultant has been brought in to oversea a training procedure to introduce appropriate responses between cops, on and off duty.

On Sunday, emotional tributes were held to honor Edwartds.

Even as the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of officer Omar Edwards continues, friends, colleagues and community leaders are remembering him.

A rolling memorial ended in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where Edwards lived with his wife and two young boys.

Some 200 cars and motorcyles drove by the officer's house. Organizers say it was not a protest, but a demonstration of support. They say the agenda was very simple, to show the officer's family that the community is with them in these dark hours.

Bike clubs, motor clubs and SUV clubs came out in force to rev their engines and make some noise, all as a sign of respect for the 25-year-old Edwards.

They rolled through the streets of Brooklyn to his home on Chauncey Street to show the officers family and parents that they do not mourn alone, that the community is with them.

"When you have guns, there is always tragedy behind it," community activist Anthony Herbert said. "So we're just saying, 'We're here for you. Whatever you need us to do, we want to show you our love and support.'"

The rally was about saluting an officer, it was not about slamming the NYPD, about race or about demanding a federal investigation. In fact, it was a wordless demonstration - no speeches. Just horns and engines and 25 balloons to be released in front of Edwards' apartment.

"The 25 balloons represent the 25 years he...was here on the planet," Herbert said. "Twenty-four of which are blue, representing the police department. One white balloon represents the fact that he transitioned to heaven."

And last year, Edwards took part in the annual football game between the FDNY and the NYPD. During this year's game, the officer's death weighed heavy on his teammates, opponents and the entire city.

Friends say that Edwards had three loves: his family, his job and football. And so last year he joined the department's team. He was proud of their 4-2 record, proud of a group of men he also considered very good friends.

"We feel him in our hearts," NYPD team president Stephen McAllister said. "It's tough, tough loss."

A gold helmet on the sideline marked where Edwards would've sat and cheered for his team, made up of nearly 80 members of the NYPD.

Sunday's gave was viewed as much more than a game, rather it was a chance to pay tribute to the late officer.

"He was not the biggest guy," McAllister said. "But he was real tough. He played a lot bigger than his size. He had a big heart."

Wearing number 23, Edwards, a defensive back, helped lead the team last season. This year, he decided to instead sit it out and spend time with his family.

"He never left his family behind, never left his teammates behind," teammate Sean Manning said. "And it's sad that we get to play here and he doesn't get to play here."

"This game is for him," another teammate said, his voice cracking. "This is the most important game of my life."

Glen Cove president Karen Martinez plans to donate all proceeds from the sales of her products to the Edwards family. She is also married to an NYPD officer and raising a young child.

"I thought this would just be a way that we could help out a little bit," she said. "Even if we just raise a little bit of money, it will do something."

The NYPD won the game, and teammates say the trophy and win was for Edwards and so much more than simply a football game.

"Love to his family, fallen comrade," teammate Demetrious Starling said. "He came out of the academy with us, and God bless his family. He would've been with us."

The 18-9 victory means the NYPD will be going to the championship in two weeks in Philadelphia. They say Edwards will once again be on their minds.

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