Pittsburgh police officer dragged by car, shoots driver
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A Zone 5 officer shot a fleeing motorist Sunday night as the driver's car dragged him more than 100 yards.
Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said two officers made a routine traffic stop at 9:54 p.m. near Stanton Avenue and Farragut Street in Highland Park. One officer went to the driver-side door and the other approached the passenger side.
Deputy Chief Donaldson said during the stop the driver suddenly put the car in drive and attempted to take off.
The officer on the passenger side reached into the car and tried to take it out of gear "in an effort to stop the vehicle."
The driver, only identified as a black male in his 20s, kept going and he and the officer became involved in a physical confrontation.
"The officer fired a weapon in self-defense," Deputy Chief Donaldson said. "The actor was struck several times and subsequently the vehicle crashed into a residence in the 6000 block of Stanton Avenue."
The driver was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in serious condition from multiple gunshot wounds and underwent surgery.
The officer, who police declined to identify, was treated at UPMC Mercy for injuries to his hand and arm.
At a press conference held early Monday morning Deputy Chief Donaldson said police had not yet interviewed the driver or the officer. He said it was too early to determine charges the driver might face or to judge the actions of the officer.
"We do know that our officers are permitted to fire in self-defense or in defense of others and the officer believed at the time his life was in danger, so he took this action," he said.
Alex White, a 28-year-old Pittsburgh Theological Seminary student, said he thought he heard gunshots outside his apartment at Anderson Hall on Stanton Avenue, the school's housing complex that sits across the street from the house where the car had collided with a rocky landscaping feature and bloodied clothing rested on the sidewalk.
"I hit the ground and before I had any wits about me, sirens were going," Mr. White said.
Mr. White said he peeked out his window and saw a man lying on the ground next to the car. He watched as police picked him up and medics loaded him into an ambulance.
His neighbors soon began trickling out of their apartments in hopes of learning more about the police activity they consider rare on their mostly quiet street, but not unusual in their neighborhood.
"It's bound to happen in the city," said Joel Montgomery, 26, who went outside after hearing the car crash. "It's city life."
First Published November 12, 2012 12:27 am