NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are new questions about the fatal police shooting of a man near Times Square over the weekend.
Bullets were flying as dozens of people recorded the incident on 7th Avenue. Police said the man threatened them with a large knife, while critics contend lethal force was not necessary.
To stunned onlookers, 51-year-old Darrius Kennedy appeared to be a crazy knife-wielding man, who taunted an army of cops Saturday, ignoring repeated demands to surrender.
But to friends, the ordeal that ended with Kennedy being shot to death, it seemed out of character.
“That is probably the most [inaccurate] portrayal of Darrius,” John Nyman told CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian. “He’d help old ladies out with packages constantly. I mean, everybody in the neighborhood loved him.”
Nyman, the super of a building on 3rd Avenue near 25th Street, said Kennedy willingly performed maintenance work in exchange for a basement apartment.
“I never knew him to miss a day of work,” Nyman said.
Kennedy also assisted deli clerk Zayed Algahmi
“It hurt me. It hurt me a lot,” Algahmi said.
But friend David McNeil said Kennedy appeared to have mental problems. He said he witnessed him draw an 11-inch knife at a supermarket where McNeil works when he was allegedly accused of shoplifting.
The incident raised questions to protection management teacher Robert McCrie about whether shooting Kennedy seven times was justified.
“To me it does not appear justified,” McCrie said.
He said Kennedy’s erratic behavior, back peddling and alleged screams at cops to “shoot him” signaled that he had mental problems.
“He was being revved up by police as if he were a hunted person,” McCrie said.
No officers on scene had Tasers, according to police, and they pepper sprayed Kennedy six times before he lunged from less than three feet away.
“They used pepper spray, they tried to disarm the guy, he lunged at them with a knife, the cops shot to protect their lives and stop the guy from running off and killing other people,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Kennedy had a lengthy criminal record, police said. he had been arrested ten times before including for marijuana possession, which is what he was being questioned for Saturday.
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