“The suspect, who right now is described as a 23-year-old African-American, was acting erratically — walking back and forth up and down the street,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters.
“As officers arrived, the suspect turned towards the officers and started to walk towards them clutching his waistband. He then pulled out a knife … and told the officers, ‘Shoot me now. Kill me now,'” the chief said.
Responding officers told the man, repeatedly, to stop and drop his knife, Dotson said. He continued to approach, coming within about four feet of one of the officers, Dotson said, adding that both officers then fired their weapons, striking the suspect.
The shooting took place not far from Ferguson, Missouri, where the death of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer has touched off violent protests.
Asked about whether he was concerned about whether Tuesday’s shooting could inflame passions further, the St. Louis police chief talked about the importance of officer safety.
“If you’re the family of a police officer and somebody approaches you within three feet with a knife, I think you have the right to defend yourself and protect yourself. So I think it certainly is reasonable that an officer has an expectation to go home at the end of the night,” Dotson said.