An off-duty D.C. police officer shot and wounded a robbery suspect last night after the man allegedly took a videocassette recorder from an East Capitol Street video store, police said.

Police spokesman Lt. William White III said the officer chased the man for about a block, repeatedly identifying himself, and fired his revolver after the man "dropped the recorder and reached into the waistband of his pants as if to obtain a weapon."

White said no weapon was recovered.

Gerald O. Diggs, 26, of 4953 F St. SE was charged with first-degree theft, a felony, according to White. Diggs was reported in good condition at D.C. General Hospital with a gunshot wound in the hand.

Officials identified the officer as Leonard Chappell, 29, a seven-year veteran of the force. White said the investigation of the shooting is continuing and that no charges have been placed against Chappell.

Chappell, a patrol officer in the 6th District, recently was investigated for shooting to death a nine-pound cat named Baby Buntin that had attacked a number of people on July 29. At the time, Chappell said he shot the cat, which he thought might be rabid, when it assumed an "attack posture" and growled after he found it behind an apartment house.

The Humane Society strongly criticized Chappell's killing of the cat. The disposition of the earlier investigation could not be learned last night.

White said Chappell, who sometimes works as a guard at the Video Channel, 4510 East Capitol St., was in the store browsing at about 7:30 last night when he saw a man leave the store with a videocassette recorder he had not paid for.

White said Chappell chased the man about a block south on Benning Road when the man ran into a parking lot adjacent to the S&R supermarket at 4520 Benning Rd. SE. The man was struck once in the left hand when Chappell fired his service revolver.

Video Channel owner Ray Mott said the store's manager had noticed a man looking at audiovisual equipment at one end of the store and had asked Chappell, who was not working at the time, to keep an eye on the man because the store was crowded at the time.