New Orleans Police Gun Down Man

Police surround a man who allegedly threatened an officer with a knife.
New Orleans is again addressing tough questions about the conduct of its embattled police department's behavior.

In a confrontation partially captured yesterday on videotape, officers shot and killed a man who was swinging a knife.

appears to show between half-a-dozen and a dozen officers taking part in the confrontation.

The shooting was the first involving police since New Orleans reopened after Hurricane Katrina.

A police spokesman is defending the officers' response, saying they were "fearing for their life." But a bystander who saw part of the confrontation says it didn't seem like anyone was going to get hurt.

The shooting comes after a videotaped police beating of a man led to two firings. There also have been allegations of theft and looting by officers in the days after the hurricane.

Now, the city's embattled police department will have another internal investigation to face.

A police spokesman said the officers who fired on the man Monday will be reassigned pending the outcome of the probe, but he defended their response, saying at least one officer's life was in danger just prior to the barrage of gunfire.

"You have a subject who's lunging at them with a knife... swinging wildly at them and they're fearing for their life," said Officer David Adams, a police spokesman. "They had no other choice but to resort to lethal force."

Adams said police fired several shots at the man, but would not disclose how many officers were involved in the shooting, New Orleans CBS Affiliate WWL reports.

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

"Evidently the pepper spray had no effect," Adams said.