A taxi driver wounded a weekend dispute with two off-duty police officers appeared in court for arraignment Monday with two slugs still in his body from what his attorney described as “an unjustified shooting.”
Thomas Moroughan pleaded not guilty to assault and reckless endangerment and was released on $2,500 bail following his arraignment in Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip, attorney William Petrillo said.
Moroughan, 26, was wounded early Sunday morning during a confrontation with two off-duty Nassau County police officers in Huntington Station in neighboring Suffolk County, said Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky, chief of the Suffolk homicide squad.
A Suffolk police statement said the two off-duty Nassau officers, identified by Pelkofsky only as four-year veterans of the Nassau police, were stopped on the side of the road in unmarked cars at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday when Moroughan stopped his taxi behind them.
Petrillo said that at least one of the officers had been driving recklessly so his client confronted them. Moroughan is accused of driving his taxi toward one of the officers.
Then, “the officer fired his off-duty weapon into the taxi, identified himself as a police officer and told Moroughan to exit the vehicle,” according to the police statement. Police said Moroughan refused to exit the taxi and when the second police officer came to assist, Moroughan then struck both officers with his vehicle and fled.
He went to nearby Huntington Hospital after realizing he had been shot, his attorney said.
The officers went to the same facility for cuts and bruises.
Moroughan was later arrested, but Petrillo contends the police are to blame.
“The off-duty officer was driving recklessly, placing anyone on road in danger,” Petrillo said. “This led to a verbal dispute, which ultimately led to an inexperienced officer who had not identified himself firing multiple shots into the taxi cab, striking Mr. Moroughan twice,” the attorney said.
Petrillo, who said neither officer was given a field sobriety test after the shooting, said he would ask the district attorney’s office to investigate. A spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota had no comment.
Pelkofsky would not comment on the attorney’s claims, citing an ongoing investigation.
A Nassau County police spokesman declined to identify the officers or release any information about them, noting the investigation was being handled in the neighboring county.
“As in all police officer-involved shootings where our officers participate, we will also conduct an administrative review,” Lt. Kevin Smith said in a statement. A union representative for the officers did not immediately return a call for comment.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.