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February 20, 2019

Fatal ‘friendly-fire’ shootings are rare in NYPD

February 13, 2019
Officers salute as the ambulance that contains NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen’s body during a procession at Jamaica Hospital in Queen on Tuesday. Detective Simonsen was killed in a “friendly-fire” shooting in Jamaica. (Go Nakamura / New York Daily News)

Fatal police-involved “friendly-fire” shootings are not common, but Tuesday’s tragedy was not the first time it happened in the NYPD.

But the shocking death of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen on Tuesday is the first time it has happened in a decade.

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Ten years before Simonsen was cut down by a fusillade of bullets, Police Officer Omar Edwards was shot to death by a brother in blue in 2009, while trying to nab a man who broke into his car in East Harlem. Edwards, 25, was off duty at the time.

NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen was shot and killed during a robbery Tuesday in Queens.
NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen was shot and killed during a robbery Tuesday in Queens. (NYPD)

Simonsen’s death on Tuesday opened old wounds for Edwards’ family. He and his wife, Danielle, were married at a City Hall ceremony a mere three months before he was killed. They had two children together.

“It’s definitely very tragic,” said Edwards’ father-in-law William Glenn on Wednesday. “My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Detective Simonsen and the police officers involved.”

Edwards’ death was made more complicated by the fact that he was black, and the officer who shot him, Andrew Dunton, is white. Glenn, a retired cop, criticized Dunton’s promotion to sergeant in 2012, saying at the time, that while it was an accident, it showed Dunton was not “supervisory material.”

“The last thing you want to do is shoot another human being, especially someone you work with,” Glenn said Wednesday.

Police Officer Omar Edwards was shot to death by a brother in blue in 2009, while trying to nab a man who broke into his car in East Harlem. Edwards, 25, was off-duty at the time.
Police Officer Omar Edwards was shot to death by a brother in blue in 2009, while trying to nab a man who broke into his car in East Harlem. Edwards, 25, was off-duty at the time. (Handout)

Before Edwards, the last time an NYPD officer killed another cop was in 1988, when Officers Joseph Galapo and John McCormick, were killed within months of each other.

Galapo and his partner Sgt. William Martin were trying to arrest two drug suspects in Sunset Park when a scuffle broke out and ended with Martin’s service revolver going off. Galapo was truck in the head and died several hours later at Bellevue Hospital

Sgt. McCormick died after a bullet went through a bedroom door and struck him in the face during a chaotic drug raid in Washington Heights.

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