Lackawanna Police Chief Defends Deadly Shooting By Officer

February 25, 2011 Updated Feb 25, 2011 at 6:31 PM EDT

By Laura Gray

February 25, 2011 Updated Feb 25, 2011 at 6:31 PM EDT

Lackawanna, NY (WKBW) -- Police say a suspected drug dealer tried to run over a police officer last night during an undercover drug bust, and left an officer with no choice but to fire back. "When I got the cell phone call, of course my heart dropped. I immediately jumped in vehicle responded to the scene." says Chief James Michel.
When Chief Michel arrived at this gas station on Abbott Road shortly after 6 last night, he found two officers injured and a suspect dead in the backseat of a minivan. The Erie County Sheriff's Department and Lackawanna Police had been conducting a drug bust, Michel says, and when they went to place a driver under arrest, "He drove into the police vehicle injuring two of my officers. One of my officers was partially trapped between the police and suspect vehicle." The officer fired his weapon. "In my 31 years in this department, this is the first time has had to use deadly physical force to take a life."
Chief Michel says a quarter ounce of crack cocaine was found in the minivan. Mayor Norm Polanski says the incident remains under investigation, but he stands by the officers decision to fire his weapon. "I consider these young men to be like my sons." He tells us, "I know the officers involved have outstanding records, so I'm certain everything will have been done right."
Both officers are out of the hospital Friday they will remain off the streets until the investigation is complete. Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita would not release the names of the suspects or what they have been charged with.
Lackawanna Police tell us none of the suspects were from the City of Lackawanna, and all of them have lengthy criminal records with prior drug arrests.