As many of our astute commenters suspected, it was a drug deal gone bad that sparked Wednesday night's wild car chase and fatal shooting in Washington Heights. It was originally reported that a man had flagged down a patrol car screaming that he was robbed and pointing to a silver Cadillac a few car lengths ahead, near West 170th street. And while police say it's true that the man and his buddy were robbed—of somewhere between $500 and $1,200 cash—it's now confirmed that the robbery was a pot deal gone bad.

The deal went sideways around 8 p.m. after the unidentified buyers handed over at least $500 to Maximo (Flaco) Pequero, who's out on parole after serving nearly three years in state prison after getting busted with 13 bags of crack cocaine. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne tells the Times that Pequero handed over "something that resembled marijuana, but was not." The dupes only realized it after Pequero and his associates started driving off, but they were able to flag a cop before he got away completely.

A chaotic 15 minute chase ensued, with multiple squad cars joining as Pequero careened through Washington Heights, crashing into parked cars, a motorcycle rider and a pedestrian, both of whom escaped with minor injuries. Finally, a plain clothes officer, Chris Labate, stood in the street with his partner, a sergeant, on the sidewalk. A witness reportedly heard them them yell, “Police, freeze!” and “Stop, police!” as Pequero drove directly at Labate. Browne tells the Times Labate fired once through the windshield when the Cadillac was five feet from him, then Pequero "reversed, rammed a car behind him, and then, tires smoking, drove again at the officer, who stepped to the side and fired once into the passenger door."

The NYPD Patrol Guide bars cops from shooting at a moving vehicle if the car is the only weapon being used, but there is an "overarching" guideline that allows them to shoot if there's risk of getting hurt. Pequero, who was unarmed—except for, you know, the car—was hit in the neck and died at the scene; his three passengers were arrested. A friend of Pequero tells the Daily News, "They didn't need to shoot him. There was no gun [and] they never found no gun." As for the would-be drug buyers who prompted the chase, they're being treated as witnesses.