In Shooting Near Times Square, Officers Fired 12 Shots

Two police officers fired a total of 12 shots at Darrius H. Kennedy, the man who brandished a knife at the police while leading them on a chase through Times Square on Saturday afternoon, a police official said on Sunday.

At least seven of the shots hit Mr. Kennedy, killing him on a sidewalk several blocks from where the police first confronted him for smoking marijuana, said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department. Mr. Browne said that the officers, who had just arrived on the scene in a patrol car they used to block Mr. Kennedy’s path down Seventh Avenue, fired when he refused orders to drop the knife and moved toward them.

Though the episode — bizarre even by the standards of Times Square — sent tourists running for cover and their cellphone cameras, nobody but Mr. Kennedy was in danger of being shot, Mr. Browne said. He said that no police officers or civilians were in the line of fire when the two officers shot their 9-millimeter pistols at close range toward a jewelry store near 37th Street.

Until that moment, at about 3:13 p.m. on a sunny midsummer day, a growing contingent of police officers had been pursuing Mr. Kennedy south from Times Square, demanding that he drop the knife and trying to subdue him with pepper spray. Mr. Browne said that an officer first blasted pepper spray at Mr. Kennedy near the intersection of 39th Street as he skipped backward down the avenue. Three other officers also tried spraying him, but those attempts “appeared to have little or no effect on him,” Mr. Browne said.

None of the officers at the scene had a Taser or other type of stun gun, he said.

Mr. Kennedy, 51, who the police believe was unemployed, had last lived in Hempstead on Long Island, Mr. Browne said. But the police did not know where he had been living lately.

He had been arrested 10 times, seven for possession of marijuana. But in his most recent run-ins with the police, he had been violent, the police said. In November 2008, he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon for threatening to harm police officers with a screwdriver near Lincoln Center. He was sentenced to 40 days in jail for resisting arrest in that case.

A month earlier, Mr. Kennedy had been taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after the police found him knocking over garbage cans in Times Square, less than a block from where a female police officer confronted him just after 3 p.m. on Saturday. The officer went to check out a commotion near the pedestrian plaza at 44th Street and Broadway when she saw Mr. Kennedy smoking a marijuana cigarette, Mr. Browne said.

Two more officers arrived, and one attempted to handcuff Mr. Kennedy. But Mr. Kennedy broke free, slipped the cigarette into his right pocket and withdrew from it a kitchen knife nearly a foot long with a six-inch blade. He raised the knife above his head “like an ice pick” and began backing down Seventh Avenue, Mr. Browne said.

More officers responded to calls for assistance, joining the first three as they pursued Mr. Kennedy across 42nd Street and away from Times Square. One parked a patrol car on the sidewalk behind Mr. Kennedy, but he slipped past before its driver could get out. Then a second police car blocked his path and its two occupants, uniformed officers from the Midtown South precinct, jumped out and drew their guns. When Mr. Kennedy ignored their calls to put down the knife and moved within three feet of them, they began firing, Mr. Browne said.

One officer fired nine shots, and the other fired three, he said. He could not say exactly how many of the bullets hit Mr. Kennedy, but he said Mr. Kennedy was shot three times in the chest, once in the groin, twice in the left arm and once in his left calf. One bullet was found in the doorjamb of the jewelry store, but Mr. Browne said the police had not determined if it had hit Mr. Kennedy first.

He said that neither of the officers had previously fired a weapon in the line of duty.

“As a department, we’re probably the most restrained in the country when it comes to the use of deadly force,” he said.


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