MIDTOWN — A knife-wielding man who was shot dead in Times Square had been arrested before after threatening police with a screwdriver, according to reports.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Darrius Kennedy was jailed for 40 days in 2008 after he pulled the screwdriver on cops on the Upper West Side, the New York Post reported.
Kennedy, 51, of Hempstead, Long Island, was shot Saturday as he waved an 11-inch blade and at police and nearby onlookers on Seventh Avenue at 37th Street, the NYPD said.
His death was witnessed by hundreds of tourists and people who packed Times Square Saturday. Many followed the action as it moved south down Seventh Avenue.
An NYPD spokesman said Kennedy ignored demands to drop the knife.
Officers fired 12 times, hitting him seven times. He was dead by the time he arrived at Bellevue hospital.
Police approached Kennedy for allegedly smoking marijuana shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday in Times Square, police said. He pulled out a knife and started backing down Seventh Avenue, waving the weapon as police followed.
The NYPD spokesman said officers unsuccessfully tried to subdue the man with pepper spray six times.
Three officers involved in the altercation were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police said.
"The officers got out of the car," Kelly said, according to the Post. "As a result, [Kennedy] approached the officers with the knife. They had no place to go; they fired their weapons. It's unfortunate.
"You can second guess all of these things. Under the circumstances, what the officers did was appropriate to the situation. They want to go home at night as well."
A witness said the NYPD gave the man repeated warnings.
"There was a lot of kids around," said Eddie Hernandez, 45, of New Jersey, who was 40 feet away from the incident. "They told him to drop the knife, he didn't. They told him to stay where he was, he started going back and forth with the knife. When he started coming up to them, they shot him.
"He was cursing, he was saying 'I'll kill you. The way he was acting, he was yelling in such a state, I don't know if he even understood them.
"When you're in that situation you gotta do what you gotta do. It's a good thing the guy didn' t have a gun."
"It's unfortunate that it was there, because it's so visible," he said, according to the Post.
"But the real world is complex and people will understand. They won't be able to go to another city that's as safe as New York City."
The New York Times reported that Kennedy had a long arrest record, including 10 prior incidents ranging from marijuana possession to a violent altercation with officers. In Oct. 2008, he was arrested for knocking over trash cans in Times Square.