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US police claim black man shot and killed after 'stealing energy drinks and a pastry' was wielding a knife

Kuntz: Right now we are focused on preserving life and protecting property

US police officers in St Louis have shot and killed a 23-year-old black man who they claim was wielding a knife and refused to drop it.

The incident happened not far from Ferguson, which has seen days of protests over the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer.

Police chief Sam Dotson said officers responded to an alert at a store where the man was reported to have stolen energy drinks and a pastry.

He told reporters that the man was acting erratically and told responding officers to "shoot me now, kill me now".

St Louis police captain Ed Kuntz says officers opened fire when the man raised the knife and moved toward them.

"Whenever there’s a police shooting, tensions are always more high. Right now we are focused on preserving life and protecting property," said Kuntz.

Scores of residents descended on the scene, about four miles south east of Canfield Drive, where Mr Brown was shot at least six times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

Witnesses on the scene dispute that he had a knife, and described the suspect as mentally disabled.

Doris Davies told ABC7 News: "I heard him say 'no,' and I saw the two police officers shooting, you know, and then I saw him fall."

Another witness Chris Brown said: "They gunned him down. They acted like he was charging on them and he wasn't charging them."

Police have deployed tear gas and stun grenades in recent nights as peaceful protests turned violent after nightfall.

Authorities said protesters have thrown petrol bombs lines of police put in place to quell looting.

In Los Angeles, another man 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot and killed by police on August 11, just two days after Brown’s death. According to news reports, the unarmed man was mentally ill.


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