SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two San Francisco police sergeants shot a man to death outside their station after he stood in front of their car and later pulled an air gun from his waistband that they thought might be a firearm, officials said on Monday.
The Sunday evening shooting comes as law enforcement officers around the United States have been on edge since two New York police officers were killed on Dec. 20 by a gunman who said he was seeking to avenge the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.
In the San Francisco incident, the man shot by police had approached officers earlier in the day to ask what kind of guns they carried and if they had been involved in any shootings, police said in a statement.
Police did not immediately release the races of the man shot to death by police or the sergeants involved.
The man, whose identity was not immediately released, was later seen loitering in the parking lot of the San Francisco Police Department's Mission station on Sunday and was asked to leave, police said.
He then stood in the driveway of the parking lot, blocking the exit of the police sergeants as they tried to leave in a car, police said.
The sergeants got out of the vehicle and told him to leave, and the man walked out of the lot and lifted his sweater, showing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun which led the police sergeants to draw their guns, police said.
The man pulled out his weapon and the police sergeants shot him three times, police said. The weapon was later determined to be an air pistol that shoots BBs or pellets, not a handgun, police said.
The man was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he died of his injuries on Sunday evening. San Francisco police officials said they plan to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the fatal shooting.
(Additional reporting by Emmett Berg; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)