Off-duty officer wounds bystander, faces charges after fight
Share with others:
An off-duty Pittsburgh police officer was in custody today and under suspension, accused of hitting a man on the back of his head with his gun and wounding the individual in the hand as the gun discharged.
At a midday news conference, Police Chief Nate Harper identified the officer as Paul Abel, an 8-year veteran assigned to the South Side station. He faces charges of aggravated assault and drunken driving from the incident reported at 2:11 a.m. at Sidney and South 20th streets on the South Side.
Chief Harper said the officer and his wife were patrons at the Town Tavern earlier and had driven away in their car when it was approached at an intersection by two unknown males. The officer apparently rolled down his window and one of them punched him, the chief said.
The officer then drove around the block, retrieving his weapon from inside the car, Chief Harper said. The officer then parked the car and approached a 20-year-old pedestrian who was not one of the two who had approached the officer's car, striking that individual with his gun, Chief Harper said.
The victim's description did not match that of the earlier assailants, and police were investigating why the man was singled out, the chief said.
"The gentleman who was in the physical altercation (with the officer) is an innocent victim as far as we can tell. He was just walking," Chief Harper said.
The man was taken to Mercy Hospital and was in stable condition. Police would not identify him.
The whereabouts of the two other individuals were not known, nor were other details about that altercation.
Officer Abel was charged with driving under the influence after a breath test indicated he had a blood-alcohol level of .111, Chief Harper said. The legal limit is .08.
First Published June 28, 2008 3:24 pm