NEW YORK (AP) — An off-duty police officer has been arrested on an assault charge after police say he apparently fired his service weapon at random, hitting a man six times while he was sitting in a car at a stoplight, authorities announced Wednesday. The man was wounded and hospitalized.
An officer with the suburban Pelham Police Department chased New York Police Department Officer Brendan Cronin for several blocks, pulling him over in New Rochelle just before midnight Tuesday after a 911 caller told dispatchers the driver of the car suspected in the shooting had his hazard lights on, Pelham Police Chief Joseph Benefico said.
Cronin, who works in the Bronx, waved his gun out of his car's window after he was pulled over, dropping it and his car keys only after being told repeatedly to do so by the arresting officer, Benefico said. The 27-year-old Yonkers resident refused to take a Breathalyzer test, the police chief said.
Benefico described Tuesday's shooting as "dangerous and bizarre."
"We have not been able to find any link between the two persons," he said, noting 13 shell casings and broken glass were found at the scene. "We have nothing to link either party to each other — no road rage, nothing."
The 47-year-old man, shot in the torso, arm and hands, walked into a hospital in New Rochelle, where he told investigators he was sitting on the passenger side of a car when he heard gunshots and believed he'd been hit, Benefico said. He then asked the driver to take him to a hospital.
The man was in stable condition, Benefico said.
Cronin, a five-year NYPD veteran, was awaiting arraignment Wednesday night. He was suspended without pay. It was unclear if he had an attorney.
A police union official didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. A message left with Cronin's family wasn't immediately returned.
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton, speaking at an unrelated news conference, said internal affairs detectives are investigating.
Last week, a police detective who said he accidentally shot his partner in the wrist in their car was arraigned on a drunken-driving charge.
Bratton told reporters he was concerned by recent reports of officers drinking inappropriately.