By Chris Francescani
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two New York police detectives shot and killed a convicted felon who approached them and pointed a pellet gun as they handcuffed a suspect late on Saturday night, police said.
Police have not released the name of the man but said he was carrying a CP99 compressed air pistol, which resembles a Glock 19 semi-automatic handgun and is illegal in New York, chief New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said on Sunday.
Browne said the two plainclothes detectives were wearing police shields as they handcuffed a drug suspect in the borough of Queens when the man approached them.
The detectives fired six rounds, striking the man three times in the torso and leg. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, Browne said.
Browne said the deceased, 42, had a record of 39 arrests - 35 of them in New York City and four in Miami, Florida - for assault, drugs, weapons possession and armed robbery.
The incident caps a year in which New York police shootings have been at the center of several high-profile incidents.
Nine bystanders were wounded in August after police opened fire on an armed gunman who took aim at them with a pistol during the morning rush hour near the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan.
Two fatal shootings of unarmed suspects - a Bronx teenager and an Army National Guardsman at a traffic stop - have also drawn sharp criticism of police tactics this year.
The officer who shot the teenager was indicted on manslaughter charges in June and pleaded not guilty.
The shooting of the guardsman, who was pulled over for dangerous driving and evading police, is under investigation by a grand jury in Queens, according to the New York Daily News.
A dozen New York cops have been shot this year, compared with nine during the previous three years, the Daily News reported Sunday.
The number of shootings involving police officers in which there was return fire from an assailant doubled to 18 so far in 2012, from nine last year.
Fifty-six bullets were fired at New York police this year, compared with 23 in 2011, the newspaper reported.
(This story was fixed to correct plea to not guilty in paragraph 9)
(Editing by Christopher Wilson)