A Costa Mesa man who had been chased through the streets of Newport Beach by police was shot in the back early Saturday when a patrolman's revolver accidentally discharged, authorities said.
The victim, Ricky Patrick Miller, 26, was in serious condition at Fountain Valley Hospital with a single .38-caliber gunshot wound in his rear shoulder. He was shot near the intersection of Balboa Boulevard and 37th Street around 4:40 a.m after he briefly wrestled with the officer who had been chasing him, police said.
Miller was charged with assaulting a police officer.
According to police spokesman Bob Oakley, Miller and an unidentified man were driving down an alley near 39th Street and Balboa with their lights off when they were spotted by two policemen cruising the area, looking for a burglary suspect.
Miller, who had been driving the 1983 Plymouth, and his companion got out of the car and began talking with the officers. According to Oakley, Miller suddenly took off running down the alley with one of the patrolmen chasing after him. The second police officer stayed at the car with the passenger.
"The foot pursuit went though alleys, streets and a park, about three to four blocks in all," Oakley said. "While in a narrow breezeway, an area between two houses, the officer observed suspect Miller crouch down. The officer drew his service revolver and ordered Miller to freeze."
But, according to Oakley, Miller took off again, only to be caught by the patrolman in front of a house.
"The officer caught suspect Miller on the sidewalk in front of the house," Oakley said. "The officer, with revolver still drawn, grabbed Miller from behind. Miller spun quickly around and struck the officer's revolver with his arm, causing the revolver to discharge. The bullet struck Miller in the back in the area of the shoulder."
Police said a small amount of marijuana was found in Miller's car, but no drug charges were filed against him.
Oakley said the names of the policemen would not be released until a full investigation into the incident was completed. He said the officer who fired the shot would be temporarily relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The passenger in Miller's car, who also was not identified, was released.