New York Police Department officers shot 51-year-old Darrius Kennedy dead in the middle of Times Square Saturday afternoon after he allegedly refused to put down a large knife he was reportedly wielding at officers and tourists, the New York Daily News reports.
A reported 12 shots were fired at Kennedy after he allegedly advanced towards officers with the knife. He was shot several times in the stomach and later died at a local hospital. Much the incident was captured on cellphone video and live-tweeted by New Yorkers and horrified tourists.
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The deadly encounter began around 3 p.m. when an officer reportedly noticed Kennedy smoking a joint at 44th St. And 7th Ave. When the cop tried to cuff him, Kennedy grew irate and pulled out a six-inch blade. Kennedy allegedly began wielding it at officers on the scene and started seven-block police pursuit in the middle of Times Square, arguably the most congested part of New York City at any given time of the day.
He was pepper-sprayed six times but it did not force Kennedy to give in to officers’ demands, according to NYPD officials. He was repeatedly asked to put down the knife but refused to do so, police officials said.
The Daily News has more:
Two police cars pulled onto the sidewalk, attempting to block Kennedy’s path down 7th Ave. as he approached 37th St.
The madman squeezed past the first vehicle before its driver could get out, but officers from the second car jumped out to confront him.
“He comes at them,” Browne said.
As Kennedy lunged at the two cops with his knife, they fired 12 times. Neither officer had discharged their weapon in the line of duty before, police said. Both are from the Midtown South precinct.
One officer, age 33, fired nine times. His partner, age 40, fired three times.
Kennedy was hit at least seven times, official said. He died at Bellevue Hospital from gunshot wounds to the chest, groin, left arm and left calf.
Kennedy was taken to the same hospital by cops in October 2008 for a psychiatric evaluation after he was picked up for knocking over garbage cans in Times Square.
A month later he was arrested after yelling curses at motorists as he walked amongst traffic on Broadway near W. 66th St.
When police moved in to arrest him, he threatened them with a screwdriver.
“I”m gonna f- you up,” Kennedy told cops, according to NYPD officials.
He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, menacing, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest in the 2008 incident.
He was sentenced to 40 days in jail after pleading guilty to resisting arrest.
He has additional prior arrests stretching back to 1978, cops said, for harassment and possession of marijuana, weapons and stolen property.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that the incident was an terrible, but necessary action taken by the NYPD.
“He had a knife and he was going after people,” the mayor told reporters. “It’s just one of those terrible unfortunate events.”
Kennedy’s family members say that the number of shots cops fired at the victim was unnecessary.
“I think they could have given him a warning shot, probably a shot in the leg or arm,” said Kennedy’s cousin, Kathy Johnson.
“I know they’ve got to protect the people, but at the same time, you took somebody’s life.”