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Police Shoot Fleeing Driver, Who Crashes, Dies

D.C. Medical Examiner to Determine Whether Gunfire or Accident Injuries Killed Man

By David S. Fallis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 8, 2004; Page B02

D.C. police shot a man after he hit an officer with his car during a traffic stop early yesterday, and the man later died after he sped away and crashed the vehicle into a utility pole, authorities said.

Investigators were awaiting results of an autopsy by the D.C. medical examiner to determine whether the man died from police gunfire or from injuries suffered in the crash, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman. Authorities did not release the man's name, saying they were trying to verify his identity.

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The shooting occurred after uniformed patrol officers in separate cars stopped the driver shortly after 4 a.m. in the 1000 block of New Jersey Avenue NW, Gentile said. Police had the driver pull over the 1989 Toyota Camry because officers determined that its Maryland license plates were not registered to the car, Gentile said.

The two officers reported that they approached the car on foot and repeatedly ordered the driver, who appeared to be the lone occupant, to keep his hands in sight and turn off the engine. The officers said the man refused to comply with their commands, Gentile said.

"He kept fidgeting around in the car like he was looking for something," Gentile said, relaying the officers' account. "Then the guy guns the car, hits the one officer in the leg, and that's when they fired."

It was not known how many times the officers fired their service weapons or exactly where they were standing when they did.

As the driver raced from the scene, the officers returned to their patrol cars and began pursuit, police said.

Officers pursued the car to the 1400 block of Florida Avenue NE, about two miles away, where the driver lost control of the vehicle, police said. The vehicle struck a utility pole and flipped, they said. The driver, believed to be in his mid-twenties, was rushed to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, Gentile said.

Investigators reported that the man appeared to have been struck at least once in the upper body by gunfire, Gentile said. But "it's unclear if the death was the result of a gunshot wound or from the crash," he said.

The officer who was struck by the Camry, Frederick Piquette, 33, was treated at a local hospital for an injury to his leg, Gentile said.

Piquette and the second officer involved, Babar Dass, 36, each have been on the District police force about four years. Both were placed on routine administrative leave while the shooting is investigated by the department's force investigation team and the violent crimes unit, Gentile said.

Investigators impounded the wrecked car and were seeking a court order authorizing a search of the vehicle, Gentile said.


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