Three New York police officers on anti-looting patrol in Brooklyn were reportedly wounded on Wednesday night in what is being described as an "unprovoked attack" by a man armed with a knife.
One officer was stabbed and the attacker is in critical condition after being shot multiple times by officers, according to reports. Two other officers suffered gunshot wounds to the hand, but they were all expected to recover from their injuries.
The incident came following a day of largely peaceful protests in New York City in response to the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Protests have spread across the nation, leading to violent confrontations between police and protesters, as well as the destruction of public and private property.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea described the episode in Brooklyn as "a completely, cowardly, despicable, unprovoked attack on a defenseless police officer," The Associated Press reported. He did not say whether the attacker's motives were related to the protests.
Shea said that two officers had been assigned to an anti-looting post in a Brooklyn neighborhood and that just before midnight a man walked up to one and stabbed him in the neck.
Shea noted that he had seen the incident on surveillance video, The New York Times noted. Shots were fired amid the altercation, which drew the attention of a police sergeant and other officers stationed nearby.
Shea said that about two dozen shell casings were recovered from the scene of the ambush and that the suspect was shot “multiple times." He did not clarify who shot the officers who sustained gunshot wounds to their hands.
“Thank God, we are not planning a funeral right now," She said.
Protests in New York escalated last week following the death of Floyd after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest, bringing criticism to some of the city's leaders over how they were handling the unrest. On Wednesday, large crowds peacefully demonstrated throughout the city, though they were confronted by police after remaining on the streets about an hour after curfew, the AP noted.
Officers reportedly used pepper spray and batons to shove people while moving crowds off the streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn. NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said that approximately 60 people were arrested in Central Park after refusing to go home.
“When we have these big crowds, especially in this area, especially where we’ve had the looting, no more tolerance,” Monahan said. “They have to be off the street.”