Police opened fire on a crowded Manhattan street at the height of evening rush hour after a man wielding a meat cleaver slashed the face of an off-duty NYPD officer as he tried to evade capture.
Three officers collectively fired 18 shots at 32-year-old Akram Joudeh - hitting the suspect at least twice and non-fatally - after chasing him through the crowds near the commuter hub Penn Station.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton defended the response as "sufficient" to "stop the attack" despite the number of missed shots fired on a street packed with people close to the popular tourist spots of Broadway and Sixth Avenue.
"You have a character running down the street waving a cleaver," Commissioner Bratton said.
"Despite that the officers approached him, sought to take him into custody, in which time one of them received a very significant injury to his face.
"At which time, based on the preliminary investigation, the officers fired sufficient rounds to stop the attack."
The plain-clothes detective slashed in the face suffered a six-inch (15cm) gash from his temple to his jaw.
He had been heading home when he intervened in the chase near Penn Station in midtown.
Police said Joudeh was initially stopped because he was trying to remove a boot from a vehicle that he was apparently living in near West 31st Street and Broadway.
Upon being confronted by officers, Joudeh pulled out an 11-inch cleaver from his waistband and started sprinting towards Sixth Avenue before rerouting towards Seventh Avenue, where he was tackled by the off-duty officer.
Joudeh slashed him in the head with the cleaver in the struggle as a group of armed officers closed in on the suspect.
Witness Jonathan Schneier told NBC News: "I heard police from behind me screaming, 'Get down, get down, get down!'.
"I saw a deranged individual with a very large meat cleaver... Probably six to eight suspects engaged the suspect verbally, told him to drop his weapon."
After being shot and grounded by the officers Joudeh was taken to hospital in a critical but stable condition.