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Driver, 17, shot by police after a high-speed chase

A Buffalo teenager was listed in serious condition in Erie County Medical Center after being struck by gunfire early Sunday from one or two Buffalo police officers.

The 17-year-old male was shot following a high-speed car chase on the East Side after he tried to hit two officers with the vehicle, said Thomas H. Burton, chief attorney for the Police Benevolent Association.

A police report identified the teenager as Wilson Morales of French Street.

The officers were driving together on a detail when they went to pull over a vehicle under suspicious circumstances, Burton said.

At about 2:40 a.m., officers saw the 2000 Dodge being driven without its headlights on, the police report said. The officers activated lights and sirens, according to the report, but the driver refused to pull over.

"A chase developed. It went for over a mile, through several stop signs," Burton said.

The officers caught up with the vehicle at French and Moselle streets, where the car skidded into a curb.

The officers jumped out of the police cruiser to make an arrest, and Morales shifted the vehicle into reverse in an attempt to hit them, the report states.

Both officers then fired.

"The driver slammed the vehicle in reverse and came very close to crushing the officer between the target vehicle and the police vehicle," Burton said.

Burton said a "number of shots" were fired, but he declined to comment on how many hit the suspect. Burton also would not comment on whether one or both officers hit Morales with their shots.

It was the second time within a month that a Buffalo police officer shot a suspect.

Parolee John A. Sordetto, 25, was killed May 27 in a violent confrontation with Officer Mark P. Andrzejak.

Andrzejak was punched in the head trying to handcuff Sordetto, who then pulled at the officer's holster as the two men scuffled on the ground. Andrzejak was able to pull out his weapon, but Sordetto continued to lunge, and the officer shot him in the chest.

Sordetto died in ECMC. Andrzejak was removed earlier this month from administrative leave, a standard assignment after an incident involving use of a firearm, and placed on the injured-on-duty list due to eye and head injuries suffered during the fight with Sordetto.

The Internal Affairs Division and homicide detectives are investigating the latest shooting, which is standard procedure when an officer fires a weapon.

Burton declined to name the two uniformed officers of the C District, but he did say that both of them had less than 10 years with the Police Department and had never before been involved in the use of force.

Neither of the officers was injured.

Morales was charged with assault on a police officer and third-degree unlawful fleeing of a police officer.

The car he was driving ended up crashing into a garage in the 300 block of French.

When asked if the car was stolen, Burton said: "There is a clear question as to whether the driver had permission to drive the vehicle."

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com