By Patrick Hedlund, Elizabeth Hagen, and Jess Wisloski
EAST VILLAGE — A police officer shot and killed a pit bull in the East Village after it charged the cop, police said.
The cop had attempted to wake up the dog's owner, who was asleep on the sidewalk at the corner of West 14th Street and Second Avenue outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken, when the animal lunged, a police source said.
The man, who the source said was mentally ill, and the police officer were both transported to local hospitals following the 4:16 p.m. incident, an FDNY spokesman said. The officer was suffering from ringing in his ears, an NYPD spokesman said. The dog died of the gunshot wound, cops said.
Neighboring businesses, friends, and residents who showed up at the scene said the young man had come to the U.S. from Poland, and that he and his dog frequented that corner.
Friends said that the man was 29 years old, suffered from epilepsy, and had frequent seizures.
"A group of these squatter, hippie types hang out on the corner all the time," said Mark, 28, who works at a fitness center near the shooting and saw the incident, but did not want to give his last name.
"Today he was laid out on the ground. Cops approached him and said 'Hey you okay?'" he said. "The dog started growling. The cop walked up and the dog started charging him."
Vincent Dilio, 46, who lives in neighborhood, said he was walking by when the officer approached the man. He said he did not see the officer take any precautions towards the dog.
"I'm surprised he would have been so not conscious of the dog," he said.