NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The cop who opened fire on a moving vehicle after it struck an officer may have done so in violation of policy and has been placed on modified assignment, officials said Friday.
The officer fired six shots at the vehicle after it drove at him and his partner while they attempted to pull it over after a chase.
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According to police regulations, officers can fire at vehicles if they are being attacked or if that vehicle is about to drive into others, but not if the vehicle is withdrawing from them. The officer kept firing after the vehicle passed, officials said.
The car was later found abandoned on the 15th Street in the East Village.
Veronica Jagdeo, 23, was behind the wheel for the four-mile wild ride, according to Chief of Department Terence Monahan. The Freeport resident has now been charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, reckless endangerment, and fleeing police.
John Mohammed, 26, was arrested at a hospital for a parole violation later, Monahan said. Police believe the two were boyfriend and girlfriend. Mohammed has not been charged in connection with Thursday night’s incident.
Mohammed was located at a hospital. He had an injury consisting with being struck by debris, police said.
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The NYPD is searching for two additional suspects involved in the incident.
The suspects ditched the car on the Houston Street off ramp and have since been on the run.
The area was shut down for hours overnight while police swarmed the Lillian Wald housing complex, with many residents watching from their apartment windows.
“My hands were shaking, I was so nervous,” said resident Martha Gonzalez. She saw the wild scene unfold right outside her apartment window. “I hear police cars and sirens. I look out my window, all of the sudden it was detectives, cop cars all over the place. They were taking out the tape, I saw the black BMW there.”
That BMW was at the center of a police chase Thursday night which resulted in the FDR being shut down and backing up traffic for miles. The FDR was reopened for the morning rush.
It started around 9 p.m. when two plainclothes officers in an unmarked police vehicle stopped a black BMW in the area of 96th Street and Second Avenue.
“While interviewing the driver of the vehicle, the officers detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle,” Monahan said.
The BMW drove off, hitting one officer in the elbow and another in the hand.
The car sped off southbound on the FDR, sending the NYPD on a more than four mile chase.
According to police, Jagdeo get off at an old closed exit at 15th Street, which is when police officers got out to approach the car. Jagdeo backed up, nearly hitting the officers, and crashing into their vehicle, according to police. The BMW kept reversing and got back on the FDR.
Police opened fire, shattering a window, but the car got away.
“Upon review of the body-worn camera footage from this incident, it appears at this time the officer who discharged his firearm at the moving vehicle may have done so in violation of department guidelines. As a result, he has been placed on modified assignment,” Monahan said.
Officers can fire at a car “if a vehicle is coming at you or is causing an immediate danger on the street, but you can’t fire on a vehicle that is proceeding away from you,” Monahan explained.
The car was later found along the FDR by East Houston Street but nobody was inside.
“It was crazy, I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen that,” said Lillian Wald resident Maria Esquerette. “They were stopping people coming in, the dogs were smelling, as people were coming out, they were also being checked… I’m very worried. I want these individuals caught, because they must be still around the area.”
The injured officers were taken to the hospital, treated and released for minor arm injuries – a silver lining in a night that was chaotic and scary.