An off-duty detective who shot an armed thug to halt a brutal beating has become the first police officer to run afoul of new NYPD rules requiring cops to take Breathalyzer tests after firing their weapons, police sources said.
The 44-year-old detective from Brooklyn South Narcotics, a 15-year veteran of the force, was placed on modified duty and stripped of his weapon after the shooting at 2 a.m. Sunday, in which the thug opened fire first with a powerful Tec-9 automatic handgun, the sources said.
Stephon Allston, 22, a Queens man with a rap sheet, fired three shots but missed. The detective fired five times, hitting the suspect in the arm and leg. Allston fled but was later busted and charged with attempted murder.
Under rules adopted by the NYPD in October 2007 on the recommendation of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the detective was forced to take a Breathalyzer test - and failed it narrowly.
His blood-alcohol level was 0.10. The state limit is 0.08. For a man who weighs 160 pounds, that's six drinks in two hours.
Veteran officers said it was unlikely the detective would lose his job, but a senior police official said, "The jury is still out on this."
The rules, adopted after Sean Bell was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets on Nov. 25, 2006, are highly controversial in the department.
"Years ago, if you didn't take action, the department would accuse you of cowardice," a police source said. "Now they encourage you not to take action."
A veteran cop agreed: "Anybody who carries their gun off duty is an absolute idiot."
Mike Paladino, head of the Detectives Endowment Association, said the detective "did a heroic job, despite the results of any breath test."
So far, a dozen cops and six detectives have undergone Breathalyzer tests after firing their weapons, but the detective in Sunday's shooting is the first to be punished. A breath test is mandatory only if a cop hits someone.
Sean Sawyer, an off-duty narcotics cop who shot and killed a motorist in a Manhattan road-rage incident last year, disappeared for 19 hours after the shooting. Authorities suspect he did so to avoid a Breathalyzer test.
Sawyer was cleared by a grand jury last week.
In the shooting Sunday, the detective was with a seven people, including two off-duty correction officers who were waiting to enter a Queens club, when he saw four men walloping another, police sources said.
The detective and the others in his party went down the street to stop the beating. When they got there, Allston pulled out a Tec-9, jammed a magazine into it and cocked it, the sources said.
"I'm a police officer," the detective shouted, ordering Allston to drop his weapon.
Allston allegedly opened fire, fleeing when he was hit. He was arrested at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, LI, along with another suspect.