NEW YORK - Bernie Goetz said he thought he was going to be mugged by a man who turned out to be a plainclothes officer arresting him in a low-level drug sting - the same explanation he used nearly three decades ago when he opened fire on four panhandling youths on a subway train.

"I'm looking at his hands, his face, his eyes, I thought he was going to attack me," Goetz said outside court.

He was charged last month with misdemeanor sale and possession of marijuana after he was nabbed selling $30 worth of pot to a female undercover officer he'd been flirting with in Union Square park. Manhattan prosecutors on Wednesday offered him 10 days of community service to resolve the case.

But Goetz, 65, didn't take the deal, and he offered a rambling set of reasons why that included becoming a vegetarian, feeling coerced into taking the money from the undercover officer and believing that police are too aggressive nowadays. He said he thought the arresting officer was trying to get him to punch him to escalate the case.

In 1984, Goetz thought police weren't aggressive enough, and he took the law into his own hands by shooting four black teens with an illegal handgun on a train. At least one had a screwdriver, and they were asking for $5. Goetz said it was self-defense and the youths intended to mug him. One of the teens was paralyzed.