By Alex Ginsberg
The New York Post
It was a one-in-a-million. . . er, 4.5 million shot.
A veteran NYPD detective who accidentally put a bullet in his knee after he stumbled out of a busted chair in a Brooklyn station house hobbled away last week with a cool $4.5 million jury verdict.
Anderson Alexander, 49, sued the city for putting the defective chair into use at the 73rd Precinct in Ocean Hill-Brownsville where the detective had the misfortune to lean back while taking a rest following a lengthy New Year's Eve shift.
"I have taken over a hundred guns off the street," Alexander testified earlier this month. "Numerous, numerous interactions with weapons . . . I had planned on working until the day they forced me out."
The freak accident took place on Jan. 1, 2002, following a 14-hour stint with the elite Street Crimes Unit, a plainclothes task force.
Alexander, a Navy veteran, was asked to hold a 9mm Smith & Wesson belonging to another detective, Peter Schrammer, while Schrammer moved a suspect to a holding area.
Alexander obliged and leaned back in his seat so he could slide the weapon into his waistband.
"I thrust my weight back to try to get the gun into my waistband," he said. "And the chair didn't hold my weight . . . I began falling back . . . I tensed up. The gun discharged . . . and I wounded my knee."
Alexander underwent two surgeries and months of physical therapy. His lawyer, Matthew Maiorana, said a knee replacement at some point in the future was a virtual certainty.
The detective, who regularly played baseball, football and basketball in his spare time, said he now uses a cane for stairs, has trouble walking more than a few blocks and can't bend down.
He retired from the NYPD in 2003 with a three-quarter pension. He now makes $24,000 a year as a court officer in South Carolina.
The jury's unanimous decision, reached on Nov. 18, was made without the benefit of the actual chair. Because the city failed to preserve it, jurors had to rely on witness accounts to decide whether it was defective.
The City Law Department is appealing the verdict.
"While it is unfortunate that Mr. Alexander shot himself in the knee accidentally, there was scant proof that the chair in which he was sitting was defective - and no proof at all that any supposed defect had been reported to anyone," said the agency's tort chief, Faye Leoussis.