01/29/2007

Off-duty N.Y. officer shoots teenager during struggle

By Elizabeth Solomont
The New York Sun

An off-duty police lieutenant shot and injured a man while attempting to break up an early-morning dispute yesterday in Queens.

Police said the lieutenant was driving in Jackson Heights shortly before 5 a.m. when he saw two men assaulting another man and stopped to intervene. As the lieutenant chased the two suspects, police said, one of them reached for the lieutenant's gun. In the ensuing struggle for the weapon, the gun went off and struck the suspect once, police said.

Police said the injured suspect, 17, was taken in stable condition to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was arrested for assaulting the lieutenant. As of last night, charges were pending.

Charges were also pending against the second suspect in the assault, 24, who was not immediately identified.

Police said the lieutenant, a 16-year police veteran whose name was not released in accordance with police protocol, was driving with his girlfriend on 90th Street between 35th and 37th avenues just before the incident occurred.

Police said the two were headed toward a coffee shop when the lieutenant saw two men assaulting and attempting to rob a third, who was on the ground. According to police, the lieutenant pulled over and asked what was going on, prompting the victim to shout for help and ask the lieutenant to call the police.

When the lieutenant displayed his shield and identified himself, police said, the two suspects continued the assault. The lieutenant then got out of his car and shouted, "Stop, police," in Spanish and English while the two suspects fled on foot.

Police said the lieutenant chased them and caught up with one suspect near the intersection of 90th Street and 37th Avenue. He was struggling with the suspect there when the second suspect came up behind him and threw an empty beer bottle at him.

When the lieutenant turned around, police said, the suspect reached for the lieutenant's gun. The weapon discharged in the ensuing struggle, striking the suspect in the torso.

Last night, police did not immediately identify the injured suspect because he had apparently borrowed identification from a 20-year-old friend before the incident to get into a Queens nightclub.

The victim of the initial assault fled the scene.

Copyright 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
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