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Cops: Off-duty officer shoots cabdriver

Police conduct an investigation on Oakwood Road at

Police conduct an investigation on Oakwood Road at Tippin Drive in Huntington Station where a taxi driver allegedly drove his vehicle into two off-duty police officers on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. One of the officers shot and wounded the taxi driver. Credit: Stringer News

An off-duty Nassau police officer shot and wounded a Huntington Station cabdriver early Sunday after, police said, the man drove his taxi toward the cop amid a verbal altercation.

Taxi driver Thomas Moroughan was shot twice and hospitalized.

Two Nassau officers had pulled over in separate cars on the side of Oakwood Road in Huntington Station when Moroughan, of West 19th Street, pulled behind them. Then, the men became engaged in a verbal altercation, Suffolk police said.

Moroughan then drove his taxi toward one of the officers, who was outside his vehicle, Suffolk police said.

One officer fired his personal weapon into the taxi, identified himself as an officer and told Moroughan to exit the taxi, Suffolk police said. Moroughan refused, they said, and struck both officers with his taxi when the second came to assist. Neither officer was named by Suffolk police.

Moroughan went to Huntington Hospital for treatment of wounds to his chest and forearm, Suffolk police said. His injuries were not life-threatening, Suffolk police said. Moroughan was arrested and charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree assault.

The police officers sustained minor injuries and were treated at the same hospital, Suffolk police said.

The off-duty Nassau officers are patrolmen, Suffolk Det. Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky said. They had pulled over on Oakwood Road because they were lost, he said.

But the circumstances surrounding the altercation remain under investigation, Pelkofsky said. Police are investigating "the legality of the incident," he said, adding that the officer's guns were legally possessed and that the investigation is "not an investigation of the men, it's an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the shooting."

Pelkofsky added that the officer who fired the shot "was in fear of his life - he was in fear that he was going to get run over by this guy."

The shooting occurred near Oakwood Road and Tippin Drive, near Stimson Middle School, at 1:18 a.m., a Suffolk police spokeswoman said.

Moroughan was to be transferred into police custody once he is able to leave the hospital, police said, and is expected to be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Central Islip.

William Petrillo, an attorney for Moroughan, said his client will plead not guilty. Petrillo, of Rockville Centre, said Sunday the shooting was unnecessary and his client did not behave as aggressively as police claim.

"It's an unjustified shoot. These are fabricated charges in an effort to try to justify a bad shooting," he said. "There was a verbal dispute, which led to an overreaction on the part of the off-duty officer."

A Nassau police spokesman would not comment on the shooting.

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