A man shot by Philadelphia police as he approached officers with a box cutter now faces assault charges.
Darin Lee, 31, is charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats and related charges for the Sept. 5 incident in the city's Kensington neighborhood, the Philadelphia Police Department announced Friday. Lee is currently hospitalized in critical condition after officer Mateo Garcia-Cardona opened fire on him, the department said.
The ordeal began around 10:15 p.m. Monday when two 24th District officers were in their police cruiser traveling northbound on Front Street near Allegheny Avenue. As they were driving they spotted a Nissan SUV driving backwards on the 100 block of Wishart Street, investigators said.
The officers said they saw a man jump onto the Nissan and reach in through the car's driver side window. A "commotion" ensued between the driver and the man, police said. When police activated their sirens, the SUV sped away north on Front Street.
"The altercation was volatile enough where it looked like the Nissan was trying to back down the block while this individual was trying to hold onto the Nissan to continue this altercation," Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said.
The officers approached the man to diffuse the situation, but he allegedly lunged at the officers with a box cutter.
The officers told the man repeatedly to drop the weapon, but he continued walking toward them and lunged at them multiple times as the continued to backpedal, police said.
NBC10 obtained cellphone video showing part of the incident. In the video, witnesses shout toward the man who walks around while holding an object in his hand.
"They're going to kill you, bro," one witness yells.
The witness then walks toward the man.
"Officer, I got him. I got him," the witness yells. "I know him. I know him."
An officer then tells the witness to back up. The video then shows the man walking toward the officers before the camera cuts away. The sound of five gunshots can be heard followed by witnesses screaming.
Police said Mateo Garcia-Cardona fired multiple rounds and struck Lee at least once in the torso.
Frank Noble, a witness, told NBC10 he's a friend of the man.
"He was my best friend, but he was a homeless guy," Noble said. "Just like me."
Noble claimed the man never lunged at the officers.
"He didn't really lunge at nobody," Noble said. "He was too high at the same time then he was trying to walk to the cops to give them the knife but next thing you know the cops, they 'Bang. Bang. Bang.'"
Police continue to investigate the shooting.