NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, calling it “plain wrong'' that the congressman said President Barack Obama needed to be careful when visiting Harlem, where a black police officer was fatally shot by a white colleague last week.
“I have a lot of respect for Charlie Rangel, but in this case, he's just plain wrong,'' Bloomberg said Sunday as he marched in the Salute to Israel parade on Fifth Avenue.
“This was a tragedy. Our police department is diverse, and they train; sometimes things happen and they're inexplicable,'' the mayor added. “There's no reason to suspect this had any racial overtones.''
Bloomberg said he spent Saturday night with the slain officer's widow and children.
Officer Omar J. Edwards was shot to death Thursday on a Harlem street. He was in street clothes chasing a man and had his service weapon out when three plainclothes officers on routine patrol yelled for the two to stop, police said. One officer opened fire and hit Edwards three times, killing him, police said. It wasn't until medical workers arrived that it was determined he was a police officer.
Investigators are trying to determine whether anyone was at fault, and the shooting has sparked concern about whether race played a factor. They have said there is no indication at this time that the officer who shot Edwards acted improperly.
Rangel was apparently alluding to the shooting when a Daily News reporter asked him Saturday what he thought the president should do while visiting the city. “Make certain he doesn't run around in East Harlem without identification,'' the congressman said. He also said that the chances of a police officer “of color'' getting shot by a colleague were higher than for a white officer.
The president, fulfilling a promise he made to his wife during last year's campaign, took the first lady to a West Village restaurant on Saturday, before the couple headed to Broadway to see a play.
Pictured above is U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel.