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NEW YORK -- In the wake of a cop being punished for failing a sobriety test after firing back at a thug, union officials said off-duty officers should no longer break up crimes -- they should just call 911.
"The message from the NYPD is crystal clear. When you are off duty, act in a civilian capacity. Get a good description, call 911 and allow the crime to continue," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association.
Another union official said: "You're a cop eight hours a day. Call 911 the rest of the time."
Detective Ivan Davison, 44, was placed on modified duty and stripped of his weapon after he shot Stephon Allston, 22, who had allegedly fired three bullets at him on a street in St. Albans, Queens.
Under rules adopted by the NYPD last year, Davison was forced to take a sobriety test -- and failed after his blood-alcohol level came in at 0.09. The state limit for driving a car is 0.08.
After the shooting early Sunday, Davison dialed 911.
"I've shot someone," Davison told the dispatcher, according to a source. "I need assistance."
Davison later told friends, "It's a miracle I wasn't hit."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly adopted the controversial rule after Sean Bell was killed in 2006, in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a Queens strip club where undercover officers were drinking.
Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg came to Davison's defense.
"I think the officer acted correctly," he said. "He was off-duty, he was enjoying himself, he has a right to do that. Off-duty police officers have the right to carry weapons. He saw people's lives were threatened and he took appropriate action to stop that."
The NYPD said the shooting appeared to be justified and that Davison faced an "imminent threat of serious physical injury or death."
"The fact that alcohol may have been consumed off duty doesn't necessarily mean that a shooting was outside of department guidelines," said spokesman Paul Browne.
The cop and detective unions have taken the NYPD to court, arguing the rule is unconstitutional and violates officers' protection against unreasonable searches. The case is pending.
Davison, who works out of Brooklyn South Narcotics, was with six friends when he saw several thugs savagely beating a man. Davison and his buddies broke up the fight - but not before Allston pulled a gun, the cop reported.
Davison said he identified himself as a cop, then squeezed off four bullets at Allston. The suspect had allegedly fired three shots with a Tec-9 at 2 a.m. at Linden and Farmers boulevards.
While the bullets missed Davison, the 15-year veteran fired five times - hitting the Alston in the arm and leg.
Allston jumped in a car driven by a man identified as Javon Goldson and was later arrested on attempted-murder charges at Franklin General Hospital in Valley Stream, LI, cops said.
His mother said, "My son is not a thug. He was playing with his friends."
Two of Allston's alleged accomplices, Goldson and Rasheem Anderson, were charged with attempted gang assault.
After the shooting, Internal Affairs Bureau Chief Charles Campisi ordered Davison, who went to a hospital after the shooting because he suffers from high blood pressure, to check himself out or face suspension, sources said.
Davison had taken a sobriety test at the hospital a short time after the shooting, but Campisi wanted him to take a more sophisticated test at a police facility.
After union officials interceded on Davison's behalf, the cop refused to leave the hospital and the NYPD was eventually given a court order to take his blood.
"This is why we need a court to decide this policy - because of overzealous police commanders," Palladino said.
Additional reporting by David Seifman, Ikimulisa Livingston, Tim Wiencis, Philip Messing and Erin Calabrese