A Nassau officer who shot dead a knife-wielding suspect in Point Lookout early Tuesday fired three times, missing the man twice and striking him once in the head, according to police.
The suspect, Kurt Doerbecker, 23, had climbed out of a rear window during a police siege of his family's home early that morning and was less than 8 feet away when the officer opened fire, police said.
"The subject was running at these officers in a full sprint, holding the knife, brandishing the knife overhead," said department spokesman Det. Lt. Kevin Smith.
One bullet landed on the sand on a nearby beach; the other bullet hit the sliding glass door of an unoccupied home next door, Smith said.
The family's attorney, William S. Petrillo of Rockville Centre, said Nassau police used excessive force and escalated the situation by surrounding the home with dozens of officers looking for a man who was a suspect in a possible attempted burglary of a neighbor's home.
"The family is absolutely distraught over the unnecessary killing of their son," Petrillo said. "Officers' actions before the shooting and their actions after the shooting were completely inappropriate and raise a serious question about their version, their credibility, regarding what happened during the shooting."
Addressing Petrillo's criticism, Smith said: "We don't consider an occupied burglary something to be minor. He was an intruder in a home where there was a woman with children."
Smith also defended the shooting and the police response. Officers have the right under state law to use deadly force when their lives or others' lives are in danger, Smith said on the day of the shooting.
The department said its deadly physical force team is examining the circumstances of the shooting, as is customary whenever police fatally wound someone. The results of that inquiry will be forwarded to the district attorney's office.
The shooting happened early Tuesday after the suspect hours earlier had caused a disturbance at a bar down the block and burglarized a neighbor's home, police said. Police later tracked Doerbecker to his Bayside Drive home and surrounded the house after he refused to come out.
The officer who fired the shots is assigned to the Hewlett-based Fourth Precinct. He's been on the force since November 2007. The department declined to release his name.