The officers were walking towards the No. 1 line subway station when they saw the suspect running from a Mexican restaurant at Broadway and West 140th Street just after 10:00 Tuesday night.
The suspect had swiped $40 from a person waiting to pay the bill, investigators said.
The officers, who were on duty, quickly grabbed the suspect and dropped him to the ground. A brief struggle ensued as the homeless man refused to be handcuffed.
While one transit officer got him cuffed, the second officer holstered his pistol and one shot fired.
The suspect, 47-year-old Richard Pearson, was struck in the right calf. He was taken to Harlem Hospital in stable condition.
Pearson is a homeless man who has an extensive rap sheet, including assault and weapons possession. He was charged with petit larceny and resisting arrest. He was also charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance after a suspected crack pipe in his pocket. He is also suspected in a cell phone robbery of a woman earlier in the evening.
Pearson was not believed to be armed with a gun.
The 30 year old officer who fired the shots was placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
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