Police fatally shoot man in New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Police shot and killed a 38-year-old man who had been waving a knife Monday in New Orleans, witnesses said.
The killing occurred about 4 p.m. on St. Charles Avenue in the south Garden District near downtown, after the man -- who has not been publicly identified -- left a Walgreens pharmacy carrying a knife, witnesses said.
Some witnesses said they heard five or six shots, but 10 red cones were placed on the street. The cones are typically used to indicate where shell casings are found.
The city's police force has been under increased scrutiny and strain in the wake of last summer's Hurricane Katrina, when some officers left their jobs and others continued to work long hours despite losing nearly everything in the storm.
Since then, police have come under investigation for allegations of looting, stealing cars from a Cadillac dealership and the videotaped beating of a man that resulted in two officers being fired last week. (Full story)
Inside the pharmacy Monday, the man hit the store manager, broke his glasses and left the store, a store employee told CNN.
Once on the street, the man told a police officer he had gotten into an altercation inside the store, said David Adams, police spokesman.
The officer began following the man down the street, where he was quickly joined by other officers, witnesses said.
Around that time, police sprayed him with pepper spray, which had no effect, Adams said.
At that point, Adams said, the man pulled out a small knife and began waving it in the air in an aggressive fashion.
The police repeatedly told the man to drop the knife and lie on the ground, but he instead stayed on his feet and continued to wave his arms, witnesses said.
After a standoff that lasted at least several minutes, during which several police officers were pointing their guns at the man, he lunged within a foot of one of them, Adams said.
That elicited a volley of shots, killing the man -- an act Adams described as justified.
"You have an officer whose life is in imminent danger," he said. "He has to back out of the way to keep from being stabbed in the chest. I dont think it's too much force."
Robert Jenkins, a defense attorney who witnessed the events, said, "It happened very fast."
Asked whether he believed the police had used excessive force, Jenkins said, "Personally, I wish they would have shot him in the leg, but something like that happens so fast, it's hard to tell."
Area residents said the man was a regular in the neighborhood, and appeared mentally unbalanced, often talking to himself while walking the streets.
He had never bothered anyone before, one resident said.
Two hours after the shooting, the man's body remained on the sidewalk in front of the condominium complex where he fell.
CNN's Sean Callebs contributed to this story.
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