Police officers who shot and killed a man who lunged at them with a large kitchen knife have insisted that they acted in self defence.
Darrius Kennedy screamed ‘Shoot me, shoot me’ as he brandished an 11-inch IKEA kitchen knife at the veteran officers.
Kennedy lunged at the officers, at times coming to within two feet of them.
On Sunday, Kennedy’s relatives said the situation should have been handled much differently.
His aunt, Margaret Johnson, told the New York Daily News: ‘It doesn’t take 12 bullets to kill one person… I think it could have been done another way.’
It was the first time either of them had ever fired their weapons on duty, the New York Post reported.
The shooting may stir additional controversy about the city’s so-called stop-and-frisk policies, which have been criticized as targeting racial minorities. Kennedy was black.
His terrifying stand-off with police happened on Saturday afternoon at 3pm in Times Square, the heart of one of New York’s busiest tourist destinations.
The 51-year-old was smoking marijuana near West 44th Street and Seventh Avenue, when he became agitated, pulled out an 11-inch knife and put a bandanna on his head.
He refused repeated orders to drop the weapon and began backing down the avenue, continuing for a number of blocks and drawing many officers into a slow-speed pursuit that took them south of Times Square.
Officers pepper-sprayed Kennedy six times but he held onto the knife throughout the seven-block pursuit.
At West 37th Street, he lunged at police and two officers opened fire, hitting him three times in the chest, twice in the left arm, once in the groin and once in the left calf.
He was taken to Bellevue Hospital while suffering from cardiac arrest and died from his injuries a short time later.
Some of the police officers involved were treated for tinnitus – or ringing in the ears – at an area hospital.
Witnesses recalled a chaotic scene in which some bystanders took cover, while others began following the procession down the avenue in an attempt to capture cellphone video of it.
On video, a number of officers, guns drawn, can be seen pursuing Kennedy as he appears to skip down Seventh Avenue.
‘They screamed, ‘”Put it down, put it down,”” said newsstand worker Sunny Choi, 26, of police orders to the man.
Henry Irby, a t-shirt vendor, added: ‘The tourists were running everywhere, screaming, panic.’
Others described Kennedy swinging at people with his knife as he passed them.
The officers surrounded him and the 12 rounds were fired.
Priscilla Rocha, a tourist from Brazil, was visiting Times Square with her husband when they saw the confrontation.
‘I almost had a heart attack,’ she told the Times. ‘Everyone started running.’
Some witnesses took to Twitter to share their horror.
‘Just saw a dude with a butcher size knife get chased through times square by cops. Apparently, they chased him down and shot him,’ one witness tweeted.
‘Omg! Time to go home!! Man in times square with a machete …like 20 cops came out of nowhere with guns drawn! I’m traumatized!!’ said another.
’20 police officers against 1 person…. Killed him right in the middle of the street,’ said another.
Kennedy had a history of trouble with the law. He had 10 arrests to his name, including seven for marijuana possession. In 2008, he was taken to a hospital for observation after knocking down garbage cans in Times Square.
In another incident he threatened cops with a screwdriver while screaming: ‘I’m going to f- -k you up!’ He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.