Man Wielding a Knife Shot and Killed by Police
Fresno - A Fresno police officer shoots and kills a man, who was wielding a knife.
It happened at about 4:30 in the afternoon, at the intersection of Maroa and Hedges Avenues in the Tower District.
Several people watched the deadly confrontation unfold.
Witnesses and police tell KMPH the man seemed to be under the influence as he waved a 9-inch knife at a homeless man and a police officer.
"The police officer came up, asked him to put down his weapon so he didn't, and so he shot the man because he was coming at him with the knife," said Casey Hall, who saw the shooting.
Before the man waved his knife at police, witnesses say he was chasing a homeless man known as Phil.
Locals say Phil is a familiar face on these streets, but the unidentified man with the knife was not.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says his officer feared for his life during the confrontation.
"The officer then retreated behind his motorcycle and continued to backpedal, and the suspect armed with the knife continued toward him. And at one point, as described by a citizen witness, the suspect was holding the knife above his head telling the officer to shoot him," said Chief Dyer.
The officer fired one round from his department issued gun -- a move that is drawing criticism.
A group of protestors yelled and held signs during the police chief's news conference with reporters, chanting "stop the killing."
They claim more than 50 people have died at the hands of officers since Dyer became chief, and more than half of them are Latinos.
Witnesses describe the latest officer-involved shooting casualty as a Hispanic man.
Those who watched the events unfold are also concerned about the level of force used in this situation.
"Could've shot him maybe in the leg or in the arm...but he was like 4 feet away and he shot him in the chest," said Rob Pereira, who also saw the shooting.
"There was another officer coming up very quickly, he could've tased him, he could've done different things," said Hall.
Chief Dyer tells KMPH that the officer, who is not being identified yet, did not use any type of non-lethal force before he shot the man with the knife.
Neither the officer, nor the homeless man being chased, were hurt in today's incident.