A Prince George's County man who was shot by D.C. police after the stolen car he was driving apparently lurched into the path of a police officer died at a D.C. General Hospital yesterday morning, D.C. police said.

Police identified the man as Ernest M. Murphy of 4443 23rd Parkway, 301, Temple Hills.

Murphy was taken to D.C. General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:55 a.m.

Officer John H. Henderson, an 18-year police veteran, was placed on routine administrative leave after the shooting.

"The department's preliminary investigation indicates that the action taken by Officer Henderson as a result of his being fearful of his partner being seriously injured or killed because of the lurching vehicle was appropriate," said Capt. William White III, a D.C. police spokesman.

The incident occurred about midnight in the 400 block of 11th Street SE after police chased the car along Pennsylvania Avenue in Capitol Hill, police said.

A police officer in an unmarked car first spotted the Mercury Cougar and called a police dispatcher to verify that the car had been reported stolen, police said.

The officer called for assistance in helping stop the car and two uniformed officers in a marked cruiser answered the call, according to police.

After the two officers saw the stolen car traveling north on 11th Street, the officers swerved their cruiser in front of the oncoming Cougar, police said.

Henderson and his partner got out of their car, pulled out their revolvers and ordered Murphy and an unidentified passenger to get out of their car, police said.

Murphy's car came to a halt, then lurched forward, according to police.

Henderson fired a .38-caliber bullet that struck the car windshield, then hit Murphy in the chest.

White said the department's internal affairs and homicide detectives will investigate the incident. Investigations involving police shootings usually take 30 days, he said.