NEW YORK (AP) — A man who was shot by police on a crowded New York City street after he struck an off-duty detective with a meat cleaver was initially stopped because he was trying to remove a boot from a vehicle that he was apparently living in, authorities said.
The shooting happened about a block from Macy’s department store and Madison Square Garden around 5 p.m. Thursday, just as rush hour was getting underway.
Police said the confrontation began when two uniformed officers encountered Akram Joudeh, 32, trying to remove an immobilizing boot from a parked vehicle.
As the officers approached him, Joudeh pulled out an 11-inch meat cleaver and ran, police said. A group of officers chased him, and at one point shot him with a Taser, with no apparent effect.
A bystander, Jonathan Schneier, said when he left work to get coffee he saw a man holding a large knife, surrounded by officers yelling at him to drop the weapon.
“I give credit to the police officers. They gave him many opportunities,” Schneier said.
Officers chased Joudeh down the street. An off-duty police detective tried to tackle him. That’s when Joudeh lashed out with the knife, hacking the face of the detective, said the department’s top chief, James O’Neill. Officers then opened fire.
“They shot until the threat was stopped,” said O’Neill, who is succeeding Police Commissioner William Bratton, who is retiring on Friday.
Police fired 18 shots, striking Joudeh at least twice. He was hospitalized Thursday night in critical but stable condition, police said. The detective was being treated for a six-inch gash from his temple to his jaw.
“I want to commend them on their bravery,” Bratton said of the officers involved.
Bratton said he believed the officers acted appropriately.
“We have a character running down the street, waving a cleaver,” he said.
Corey Melton, a photographer, was checking his phone on the street corner when he heard “a series of gunshots go off.”
Photos he took show a gray, four-door sedan with bullet holes in the windshield. His photos also show a man sitting on the ground handcuffed behind the car.
Police said Joudeh has been arrested more than a dozen times in recent years, mostly for minor crimes, but didn’t provide details.
Attempts to locate any relatives Joudeh might have in New York were not immediately successful. It is likely to be many hours, if not days, before a lawyer is appointed to represent him.
Joudeh’s former neighbors in Queens told WNBC-TV that he was a troubled man who always seemed to be fighting with his roommates. They said he sometimes got visits from police.