North Huntingdon police officer fired on car that nearly ran him over

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A North Huntingdon police officer shot a man in the arm after he was nearly run over by the vehicle the man was riding in Monday night, officials said.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John W. Peck said the 20-year-old passenger in a vehicle in Hilltop Park was not seriously injured. He was treated and released from a Pittsburgh hospital.

The officer, a "very experienced" member of the township police force, is now on paid administrative leave, Mr. Peck said. He would not release the officer's name or years of service but said he was not hurt.

Township police said the vehicle's driver, 21, tried to run over the uniformed officer, who was on a routine patrol when he saw a vehicle parked in a turnaround area off Hilltop Park Road in Huntingdon Heights around 8 p.m.

"He was just attempting to determine the reason for their presence in the park," Mr. Peck said.

The officer stopped about 10 feet away from the vehicle and illuminated the area with flashing lights and spotlights.

He noticed two men talking in the vehicle and some "movement," as if they were reaching under the seat for something, Mr. Peck said.

The officer told the men to show him their hands, but they did not, Mr. Peck said. The passenger looked as if he dropped below the dashboard, then came back up, and both men continued to move around as if they were trying to grab something under the seat, Mr. Peck said.

The officer "began to draw his pistol" and noticed the vehicle's ignition was started, Mr. Peck said.

"It appeared that the vehicle was coming toward him," Mr. Peck said, adding that the officer had "no place to retreat."

The officer fired his gun into the windshield of the oncoming car likely twice, and continued to fire at the driver's side window as many as five times, Mr. Peck said.

The vehicle sped away.

At the hospital, the injured man said he had been the passenger in the vehicle, Mr. Peck said. The driver was at home when detectives went to interview him. Both men, whose names Mr. Peck also did not release, are from North Huntingdon.

Preliminary reports indicate there were no weapons inside the vehicle.

The investigation is ongoing to determine if criminal charges should be filed and if the officer followed protocol, Mr. Peck said. The Westmoreland County Detectives Bureau is conducting the investigation.

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Molly Born: or 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. First Published September 24, 2013 7:30 AM


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