Obviously, the police have to take action when there’s a knife-wielding man walking the streets near Times Square, but the death of 51-year-old Darrius Kennedy left many asking if police overreacted. Kennedy, who was initially stopped for smoking marijuana, was shot at twelve times by officers and died at Bellevue Hospital from wounds to his chest, groin, left arm, and left calf, the Daily News reports. His family says police should have tried to subdue him without killing him, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on Sunday that he thought, “the police responded appropriately” and the number of shots they fired wasn’t unusual.
According to the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg added that the officers, “probably acted in responsible ways” when trying to stop “somebody who must have been mentally deranged.” Kennedy had been arrested several times for marijuana possession and was taken to Bellevue for a psychiatric evaluation after he was found knocking over garbage cans in Times Square. A month later he was arrested for threatening police officers with a screwdriver near Lincoln Center.
NYPD officials say the officers had tried to subdue him with pepper spray six times, but he wouldn’t put down the knife. His cousin, Kathy Johnson, told The Wall Street Journal that Kennedy wasn’t violent or “deranged.” She added:
“I think they could have given him a warning shot, probably a shot in the leg or the arm or something like that … I know they’ve got to protect the people but in the same token, you took somebody’s life, you know, and we’re having to deal with that, too.”