An upper Manhattan car chase that ended when police fatally shot the driver was touched off by two men who claimed they were robbed, but it turned out they had been trying to buy drugs from the driver, police said Thursday.
The incident began late Wednesday in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood when a man came up to officers saying he'd just been robbed by four people in a Cadillac. It was discovered later that the man and his friend had paid the men about $500 for what they thought was marijuana, but turned out to be some other substance, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department.
One of the officers tapped his badge on the window of the Cadillac and asked the driver to roll down the window, but instead the driver rammed two cars and took off down the street. Police from three separate units pursued the Cadillac up and down neighborhood streets and the Henry Hudson Parkway before cornering it about 15 minutes later.
Once cornered, the driver slammed into a motorcycle which got stuck under the car and was dragged. Then the driver reversed, apparently trying to dislodge the motorcycle, and hit a pedestrian. Both the pedestrian and motorcyclist suffered minor injuries.
The Cadillac headed toward an officer in the street, who yelled to stop and fired one round into the windshield, Browne said. The officer fired another shot when the driver continued toward him.
The driver, a 36-year-old Manhattan man, was hit in the neck and died at a local hospital. His name was not released pending family notification. The other three occupants were not injured and taken into custody, Browne said. Charges were pending.
Deadly force guidelines steer officers away from shooting at moving vehicles, but police are allowed to use deadly force when they face an imminent threat of injury or death.