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Man shot helping officer subdue suspect

| Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006, 12:00 p.m.

A Good Samaritan who helped a Pittsburgh police officer wrestle with a suspected drug dealer was shot in the hand Saturday afternoon in Shadyside.

Police Chief Dom Costa said the suspect was apprehended with a bag of cash.

"The bag contained a large amount of cash. I mean thousands," Costa said at a news conference last night.

The incident began when the officer, whom Costa declined to identify, approached a black Honda in the 700 block of Copeland Street at about 3:50 p.m. for a traffic violation. The officer collected the driver's license and registration information and returned to his car. When he went back to the vehicle, the suspect, identified as Omar Pagan, 29, of Miami, Fla., fled the car with the bag of money.

The officer gave chase through the area around Elmer and Bellefonte streets and discharged his Taser weapon, Costa said. The suspect was hit with the electric charge from the Taser, broke the Taser lines and continued to run.

The officer deployed the Taser again and also used pepper spray on the suspect. A scuffle ensued and two Good Samaritans asked the officer if he needed help.

The suspect had his hand on the officer's gun and was attempting to pull it from his holster, Costa said.

One Good Samaritan tried to help the officer hold onto his weapon. It discharged through the bottom of the holster and struck the Good Samaritan in the hand. The 21-year-old man suffered a superficial wound to his hand and is recovering in a Pittsburgh hospital, Costa said. Costa declined to identify the hospital.

"This was a gentleman determined to get away from this officer. When you deal with drugs, these are very determined people," Costa said.

Pagan faces multiple charges including traffic violations, resisting arrest, aggravated assault and disarming a police officer.

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