Police shot and killed a man who allegedly threatened an officer with a knife, marking the first shooting involving an officer since the city reopened after Hurricane Katrina. Officers on Sunday repeatedly asked the man to drop the knife and used pepper spray to try to subdue him, but he was still able to walk toward an officer and threaten him, authorities said. Police spokesman David Adams said he did not know how many officers fired shots or how many shots were fired. Witnesses said a half dozen or more shots were fired.
The shooting is under investigation. Adams said officers involved have been reassigned pending the outcome, but he defended their response, saying at least one officer's life was in danger just prior to the barrage of gunfire.
"You have a subject who's lunging at them with a knife ... swinging wildly at them and they're fearing for their life," Adams said. "They had no other choice but to resort to lethal force." It was the first shooting of any kind involving a New Orleans officer since the city was formally reopened after Hurricane Katrina damaged large areas of the city and displaced tens of thousands of residents nearly four months ago, Adams said.
Since the hurricane, the city's police department has struggled to rebuild its ranks and address questions about officers' conduct. Hundreds of police left the city without permission in the days after the storm. There were also allegations of theft and looting by some police officers, and the videotaped beating of a retired teacher by police in the French Quarter, reports the AP. I.L.