During a foot chase last night, a gunman fired from point-blank range at a Western District police officer. But the handgun misfired, sparing Officer Jerome Grayson serious injury or worse.
"I saw the muzzle flash and expected to be hit," said Officer Grayson, 30, who was recommended for "Policeman of the Month" honors for disarming a man who attempted to shoot him three weeks ago.
Lt. James Rainey of the Western District gave this account:
Officers Grayson and Kevin Turner, 23, witnessed two men allegedly conducting a drug transaction about 9:30 p.m. in the 600 block of N. Pulaski St.
As they approached, one man placed suspected narcotics in his mouth in an attempt to hide them. Then that man bolted, running toward Edmondson Avenue with Officer Grayson in pursuit.
Officer Turner ran along another street to head off the man.
In the 2100 block of Edmondson Ave., the suspect was running across a vacant lot near the Underground nightclub when he stopped, turned and fired a handgun at Officer Grayson from less than 10 feet.
Realizing that Officer Grayson was not hit, and apparently unable to fire a second shot, the man resumed running. As he continued the chase, Officer Grayson radioed that he had been shot at, causing several other officers to join in the chase.
At Hollins and Pulaski streets, Officer Turner, running parallel to the man, caught up and arrested him after a brief scuffle.
At the bottom of an embankment, police recovered a silver-colored .380 semiautomatic with fragments of a misfired round in the chamber and muzzle. Lieutenant Rainey described the weapon as a cheap Saturday night special.
Jermaine Watkins, 19, of the 800 block of Lennox St., was charged with assault with intent to murder, possession of heroin, using a handgun in the commission of a felony and discharging a firearm, police said. He was being held at the station lockup for a bail hearing today.
Lieutenant Rainey said a man pointed a .357 Magnum handgun at Officer Grayson on March 3. The officer disarmed the man and arrested him.