The Associated Press

NEW YORK A police officer told investigators Wednesday that he watched in horror as his partner was shot by another cop, who kept firing even as his target crumpled to the ground.

Officer David Thompson recounted the controversial "friendly fire" incident that critically wounded Officer Desmond Robinson to internal affairs detectives, said a police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The shooter, off-duty Officer Peter DelDebbio, mistook the plainclothes officer for a fleeing armed suspect when the pair came face to face, guns drawn, Monday in a crowded midtown Manhattan subway station.

Before either man could identify himself as a police officer, DelDebbio emptied his five-shot revolver. At least two bullets entered Robinson's back, police officials said.

Robinson, 31, remained in critical condition Wednesday, but was expected to survive. DelDebbio, also 31, was recovering at the same hospital after he was shot by another officer at the scene.

Investigators, meanwhile, continued to sort through conflicting versions of the incident provided by witnesses. One man has said he saw DelDebbio force Robinson to the ground before shooting him.

Robinson and Thompson were part of a pickpocket detail when they came to the aid of two uniformed transit officers who were trying to arrest two armed teen-agers in the station at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street.

A sawed-off shotgun carried by one of the teens discharged after he dropped it on the platform and ran into a subway train. DelDebbio was a passenger on the train.

What happened next remains unclear.

Thompson told detectives his partner was running, gun drawn, toward the subway train when DelDebbio pointed his revolver out the door and fired five shots in rapid succession, the source said. The first two bullets appeared to hit his partner in the chest; the rest hit him as he turned away and fell face down on the ground, the officer said.

According to Thompson, DelDebbio kept shooting even as Robinson "was going down," the source said. "It seems like it was an adrenalin thing."

During the commotion, a bullet fired by a uniformed officer ricocheted off a subway train and struck DelDebbio in the arm. Thompson and other officers subdued DelDebbio until he convinced them he, too, was a cop.

In a more damning account, Dennis Kearns, an unemployed banker from Maplewood, N.J., told police that he saw DelDebbio make Robinson lay down on his stomach, then stepped back and fired at least three shots into his back.

But for the second day in a row, police officials insisted that so far their investigation had not uncovered any wrongdoing.

"My opinion is that we have two good cops that got caught up in an awful situation," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.

Bratton described DelDebbio as highly distraught over the incident. Read Next Article