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CLIFTON - A city detective who was hit by a car Friday while breaking up an alleged drug deal still managed to catch his suspects, police said.
About 10:40 a.m., plainclothes Detective Gary Passenti spotted a suspicious-looking man on a bicycle in the rear parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy at 1646 Main Ave., near the city's border with Paterson, said Detective Capt. Robert Rowan.
From an unmarked vehicle, Passenti kept an eye on the man until a 1995 Lexus 300 pulled into the parking lot. The man on the bicycle approached the vehicle and appeared to conduct a hand-to-hand drug transaction, Rowan said. Passenti got out of his car and moved in to break up the alleged deal. He first went after the man on the bicycle, who tossed three baggies of suspected heroin before trying to ride off on the bike.
Passenti grabbed him, then ordered the car's driver to stop. Instead, the driver fled the parking lot, striking Passenti's left leg and shoulder with the car, police said. Passenti tumbled over, but held on to Allen DeVita, 53, of Paterson, the bicyclist. Then, he radioed in the driver's license plate number.
Police traced the plate to a Theodore Tejada, 27, of 14 Home Place in Clifton. A pair of city patrol officers drove to Tejada's neighborhood and saw his car parked on the street. Then they knocked on his front door. Tejada opened it, saw the uniformed officers, and dashed back inside, Rowan said. The officers followed him and placed him under arrest. Later, Passenti identified Tejada as the driver who struck him.
Tejada was charged with possession and distribution of heroin, aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obstruction of a governmental function and being a hit-and-run driver, Rowan said. Police also arrested DeVita and charged him with possession of heroin and resisting arrest, he said. Bail was not immediately set for the two men, who were being held in the Clifton municipal lockup on Friday afternoon.
Passenti was treated for an injured left knee at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson. He was released from the hospital but placed on leave while his injuries heal, Rowan said.

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