NYPD Officer Side-Swiped by Stolen Truck in Queens Hit-and-Run: Officials

The officer was hit by the side-view mirror, which caused his gun to go off in the holster, officials said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police are looking for the driver of a pickup truck who fled a traffic stop in Queens, side-swiping an NYPD officer who pulled over the vehicle because it matched the description of one being sought in a robbery investigation. Sheldon Dutes reports. (Published Friday, Aug 23, 2013)

    Police have identified the driver of a pickup truck who fled a traffic stop in Queens, side-swiping an NYPD officer who pulled over the vehicle because it matched the description of one being sought in a robbery investigation.

    Police are still looking for 61-year-old Gary Sarbak, law enforcement officials say. He has an extensive arrest record in Florida and in the New York area, and is wanted in both the hit-and-run and the robbery. 

    He should be considered dangerous, police say. 

    Officers were on patrol in Astoria Thursday night when they spotted the pickup truck with Florida plates and pulled it over near Broadway and Crescent. 

    One officer approached the truck on the driver's side, and the other went to the passenger side, according to law enforcement officials. The driver then hit the gas, and the officer on the passenger side was hit by the truck's side-view mirror.

    The swipe caused the officer's gun to go off in his holster, and the other officer believed the two officers were being fired upon by the suspect, so he shot at the fleeing truck. Police don't believe the suspect was hit. 

    The officer struck by the truck was taken to Cornell Hospital with minor injuries. The second officer also had minor injuries, but it wasn't clear how he was hurt.

    Police found the pickup truck abandoned a few blocks away. Officials say it was stolen from Florida; there was a gun in the car at the time it was taken.

    Authorities are canvassing surveillance video in the area.

    Police had been looking for the pickup truck after a 49-year-old woman reported being robbed by a man driving earlier in the day near 79th Street and Ditmars Boulevard. She said the driver grabbed her pocketbook and dragged her a few feet before fleeing. She refused medical attention at the scene.

    Neighbor Cynthia Mejia said she heard gunshots, then sirens as ambulances and police rushed to the area.

    The officer "seemed conscious but you could tell he was hurt," Mejia said. 

    -- Marc Santia and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report. 

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