updated 12/27/2005 12:40:50 AM ET 2005-12-27T05:40:50

Police shot and killed a man who allegedly threatened an officer with a knife, marking the first shooting involving an officer since the city reopened after Hurricane Katrina.

Officers on Monday repeatedly asked the man to drop the knife and used pepper spray to try to subdue him, but he was still able to walk toward an officer and threaten him, authorities said.

“Evidently the pepper spray had no effect,” police spokesman David Adams said.

A businessman had called police after a confrontation with the 38-year-old victim in the Lower Garden District west of downtown.

Adams said he did not know how many officers fired shots or how many shots were fired. Witnesses said a half dozen or more shots were fired.

The shooting is under investigation. Adams said officers involved have been reassigned pending the outcome.

Witness videotapes incident
Phin Percy videotaped a portion of the incident from his father’s second-story apartment.

“The cops kept telling him, ’Lay down. Lay down.’ This went on for about three minutes,” he said.

Trey Brokaw, a patron at a nearby bar, said he saw the victim with a knife in his hand shortly before the shooting.

“I didn’t see anyone near him,” Brokaw said. “It didn’t seem like anyone was going to get hurt to me.”

Brokaw said he did not see what happened in the final moments before the shots rang out.

The victim’s name was not released because his family had not been notified.

It was the first shooting of any kind involving a New Orleans officer since the city was formally reopened after Hurricane Katrina damaged large areas of the city and displaced tens of thousands of residents nearly four months ago, Adams said.

Since the hurricane, the city’s police department has struggled to rebuild its ranks and address questions about officers’ conduct.

Hundreds of police left the city without permission in the days after the storm. There were also allegations of theft and looting, and the videotaped beating of a retired teacher by police in the French Quarter.

Two of the officers accused of the beating were fired; a third was suspended for 120 days. All three are scheduled to be tried next month. The allegations of looting and theft are being investigated.

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