NEW YORK — Two police officers opened fire on an emotionally disturbed man who was dodging cars on a busy Manhattan street Saturday night, wounding two bystanders and sending people running for cover, authorities said.
Police said the man made movements suggesting he had a weapon, though he turned out to be unarmed. The officers’ shots missed him, and he was eventually brought down by a stun gun.
The encounter happened just before 10 p.m. near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a block away from Times Square.
Officers saw a man on foot weaving erratically through traffic and sometimes blocking vehicles, apparently because he wanted to be hit by a car, police said.
As officers approached, police said, the man reached into his pocket as if grabbing a weapon, and two officers fired a total of three shots. The bullets struck a 54-year-old woman in the right knee and a grazed a 35-year-old woman in the buttocks, police said.
Photos and video taken by onlookers showed a chaotic scene. Several officers tried to contain the man as he moved through an intersection, and he was finally brought down as people in the crowd yelled at police not to shoot him.
The 35-year-old man was taken into custody after a sergeant subdued him with a Taser, police said. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was in stable condition, police said. Authorities described him as “emotionally disturbed.”
The women were taken to hospitals, where they both were listed in stable condition, according to police. Neither had injuries considered life threatening, police said.
The officers who fired their weapons had been on the force for 1 ½ years and 3 years, police said.
Police did not release the names of the women or the man.
In August 2012, nine people were injured from bullets fired by police in a confrontation with a gunman near the Empire State Building. They were hit by stray bullets, ricochets and fragments, suffering non-life-threatening gunshot and graze wounds. Officials at the time defended the officers’ decision to fire on a street crowded with people.
Police guidelines tell officers to avoid unnecessarily endangering innocent people. But police are allowed to use deadly force when faced with an imminent threat of serious injury or death.
Today, several police vehicles and half a dozen officers were still stationed outside the bus terminal at the intersection of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, but the area was busy as usual, with crowds of tourists.