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Cops: Man shot in Times Square, Darrius Kennedy, from Hempstead

Police shot and killed a man they say lunged at them with a knife in a confrontation that began in Times Square and ended with shots fired near one of New York's most popular tourist areas. (Aug. 12, 2012)

A knife-wielding man killed by NYPD officers on Saturday near jam-packed Times Square was hit by at least seven of 12 shots, had no job and underwent a psychiatric evaluation in 2008, authorities said Sunday.

Darrius Kennedy, 51, had a Hempstead address, but relatives said they had not seen him since June.

Police fired at Kennedy at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 37th Street following a 4-minute pursuit down one of the most congested streets in Manhattan, officials said.

Kennedy had been brandishing an 11 1/2-inch kitchen knife "like an ice pick over his head" before he was shot, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in a news conference Sunday.

Kennedy was pronounced dead Saturday at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, the same facility where he was sent in October 2008 after he knocked over garbage cans in Times Square and was deemed "an emotionally disturbed person" by police, Browne said. The results of the psychiatric evaluation were unknown, he said.

A relative of Kennedy's in Hempstead Sunday said the NYPD used excessive force.

"It was too many bullets, the killing," said his cousin Kathy Johnson, of Hempstead. "They could have given him a warning shot, probably a shot in the leg or the arm."

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told WABC-TV in New York that the situation in Times Square was "fluid," and that Kennedy "was threatening people, threatening officers."

Part of the police foot pursuit was captured on cellphone cameras and shows Kennedy walking at an alternately slow and brisk pace down Seventh Avenue with several NYPD officers following, guns drawn. Kennedy falls out of view in several video clips posted online, but about a dozen rapid-fire gunshots are soon heard, followed by the gasps of stunned onlookers.

"Neither police officers nor the public were in the line of fire," Browne said.

Police stopped Kennedy on Saturday in Times Square because he was smoking marijuana, Browne said. He was "belligerent" and led police south, walking backward and swinging the knife, Browne said.

Two officers, including an 18-year veteran from Patchogue, struck Kennedy from 2 to 3 feet away in the chest, groin, arm and leg, said police, who did not release the names of the officers

Before they fired, police used pepper spray six times on Kennedy "to no effect," Browne said. No officer on the scene had a Taser, he said. "The overarching guideline in the use of deadly force is whether the officer or another person present was in imminent danger of death or serious injury," Browne said.

Kennedy was arrested in November 2008, also in Times Square, for menacing drivers and threatening police with a screwdriver, Browne said. Kennedy's arrest record dates to 1978 and includes several charges of marijuana possession, Browne said.

Kennedy's family did not comment on his criminal or psychiatric history, with Johnson saying, "He was fine." She said she last saw her cousin at her mother's birthday party in June.

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