A black off-duty police officer has been shot by a white colleague who “feared for his safety” in the US.
The white officer was among those chasing gunmen in a stolen car when the officer with 11 years of service came out of his home armed with his police-issue gun to help.
He was shot in the arm and was taken to hospital in St Louis, Missouri.
The St Louis Metropolitan Police Department described the shooting as a “friendly fire incident” but the injured officer’s lawyer said he had been “automatically feared” as a black man.
Acting police commissioner Lawrence O’Toole said officers were pursuing a stolen car when three suspects inside opened fire on Wednesday night.
They chased the vehicle until it crashed, with the men getting out in with guns and attempting to flee on foot.
“Fearing for their safety, the two officers fired shots at the suspects, striking suspect one in the ankle,” Mr O’Toole said.
“The victim/police officer was off-duty and inside his nearby residence when he heard the commotion and responded outside, armed with his department-issued weapon.
“Two officers challenged the off-duty officer and ordered him to the ground, to which he complied.”
During the process, the two officers recognised their 38-year-old colleague and told him to stand up and walk towards them.
But a third officer, a 36-year-old white man who had been in the force for eight years, allegedly misinterpreted the scene.
“At this time, a responding officer just arriving in the area observed this, and fearing for his safety – and apparently not recognising the off-duty officer – discharged a shot, striking the off-duty officer in the arm,” Mr O’Toole said.
“He was conveyed to a hospital, listed as stable and has since been released.”
Two of the suspects, both 17-year-old black boys, were arrested at the scene and had their guns seized, while a third escaped and remains at large.
The officer who opened fire and six others have been placed on administrative…