NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Crime scene tape stretched across Belfast Street in Hollygrove, where a police officer shot and killed a man Sunday morning.
It began around 9:15 with a call of shoplifting at McKenzie Food Store. Witnesses say someone stole juice.
Two 2nd district officers arrived minutes later and spotted a man across the street.
"The only information I can release at this time and that we know for certain at this time is that one of our officers fatally shot a 31-year old man and a loaded .45-caliber gun was found lying next to that man," says NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.
Family members identified the man killed as Keith Atkinson, better known as "Magic" around the neighborhood.
"I can't say what was in that cop's mind as he pulled the gun out," says his cousin, Alonquin Brown. "Maybe my cousin didn't stop when he said freeze, I don't know. But I don't think that cop set out to come kill somebody. I don't believe that for one second. I just think it's a combination of things, racism, social issues, this neighborhood's crime ridden, a lot of stuff."
A large crowd gathered as investigators collected evidence.
Some watched tearfully, others shouted their frustrations at police.
"How they going to make them children feel, they don't got a daddy no more," says friend Lyja Johnson. "They daddy gone. Over a juice, it's that serious? Over a juice that he didn't even do. That's wrong, them police down bad for that."
Serpas won't say if Atkinson fired any shots, only that the officer must have felt threatened to open fire.
"We will investigate this thoroughly and completely to find out exactly what happened," he says. "A case like this reminds us that there's no such thing as a routine police call."
The officer involved in Sunday morning's shooting has been reassigned to desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
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