Hatchet-Wielding Suspect Killed In Police-Involved Shooting In Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police shot and killed a man in Jamaica, Queens Thursday after he allegedly hit an officer in the head with a hatchet.

A bystander was accidentally struck by police gunfire during the incident.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. Thursday at Jamaica Avenue and 162nd Street in Queens, police said.

The suspect walked up to a group of uniformed officers, who were posing for a photo for a freelance photographer, and hit one with the hatchet without warning, authorities said.

“Nothing was said at the time of the assault. The suspect was described as having charged at the officers,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a news conference Thursday.

Officer Kenneth Healey was slashed in the head and taken to Jamaica Hospital Center. Authorities said he was in surgery and in critical condition as of Thursday night with a skull fracture.

Healey’s father is also a police officer and was by his son’s side at the hospital, CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported.

“The cop was bleeding, like, pretty horribly,” said witness Rudy Escamilla, who gave CBS 2 cellphone figures showing officers rushing to Officer Healey’s side.

Another officer at the scene fired several rounds hitting the suspect, who died at the scene, sources said.

Surveillance video from the incident released by police shows the hatchet-wielding suspect running past a person on the sidewalk and taking a swing.

A female bystander, who was accidentally struck by a police round, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center, sources said. Authorities said she was about half a block down the street from the incident when she was injured.

CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported the 29-year-old woman was alert late Thursday. Her condition was said to be stable.

The second officer, Joseph Meeker, was also taken to the hospital for injuries to his arm, sources said; he was expected to be released late Thursday.

Bratton said all the officers involved are recent graduates of this summer’s police academy class.

“This illustrates once again that at any time, any place, anywhere, a police officer can be set upon,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said. “Their training kicked in, they immediately responded, they took control of the situation even though one of their partners was laying on the ground injured.

Also during the news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the officers’ training in how they responded to the situation.

“Three rookie cops, absolutely modest about what happened today and what they did,” de Blasio said.

Police have identified the suspect as Zale Thompsons, who they said lived in Queens.

Bratton described the weapon the suspect used as a metal hatchet, about 18.5 inches in length.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton holds a picture of the ax in an attack on police officers in Queens. (Credit: CBS 2)

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton holds a picture of the ax in an attack on police officers in Queens. (Credit: CBS 2)

One eyewitness described to WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond a chaotic scene in the pouring afternoon rain.

“Parents with their kids, fool was flying,” the witness said.

“Just total chaos, gunshots, the guy pulled out an ax. It was just chaos,” one witness told CBS 2.

“He attacked the officer,” another witness said.

The suspect’s motive remained unclear late Thursday.

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