The family of slain cop Omar Edwards grappled with their grief Friday night as police unveiled a tragic time line that seemed to lay some of the blame on the victim.
"My son is dead, my son is dead," Edwards' heartbroken mother, Natalia Harding, told a friend while she held her son's babies. "They killed my son."
A longtime friend of Harding called the ordeal "her worst nightmare" come true.
"She would stay up all night while he was at work worrying about his safety," said Kirt Gonzalez, who lives near Edwards' family in Brooklyn.
Edward's wife, Danielle, is "in pieces right now," he added. "For the sake of the kids, the family is trying to remain strong."
A 25-year-old newlywed who once dreamed of playing professional football, Edwards, who joined the force in July 2007, was chasing a man who had broken into his car when he was killed Thursday night.
The NYPD's official account of the cop's death noted that Edwards had his gun drawn - and did not identify himself as a police officer - when he was confronted by Officer Andrew Dunton and two other plainclothesmen. Dunton shot Edwards three times - the fatal shot to the back.
As he lay handcuffed on the ground, cops cut off his shirt to reveal a Police Academy T-shirt and found NYPD shield No. 12734 in his pants pocket.
"The only thing that can come out of this is to improve procedures so perhaps it doesn't happen again," Mayor Bloomberg said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton called for a federal investigation into the death of Edwards, who was black. Dunton and the other two cops are white.
"I don't know what to say about the police force," said Edwards' father, Ricardo. "They are there to help us but they are destroying one another."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly met with Edwards' widow, mother and father-in-law for about 15 minutes last night. He will talk with Harlem church leaders today and state Sen. Malcolm Smith tomorrow.
Some black officers questioned whether Edwards was given enough time to respond before Dunton fired.
"Be 100% sure before you pull that trigger," said a high-ranking black NYPD officer, who asked to remain anonymous.
Police rules put the burden on an off-duty officer to identify himself in a confrontation with cops.
"The challenging officer, however, also has a responsibility to use sound tactics and judgment in approaching the situation," the NYPD Patrol Guide says.
Because of the shooting, the NYPD yesterday decided to make "confrontation" a training priority for June. Confrontations are when on-duty officers confront a gunman who later turns out to be an off-duty cop.