Officer Nathan Blanford opens fire as Deng Manyoun swings a flagpole in his direction.
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Louisville, Ky., Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad is defending an officer who fatally shot a man on Saturday. He plans to launch an internal investigation into the shooting, which black activists say did not require lethal force, the Associated Press reports.

A surveillance video shows Officer Nathan Blanford confronting Deng Manyoun, a 35-year-old African immigrant, on a sidewalk in Old Louisville. Manyoun, believed to be intoxicated, staggers away, out of the video frame. Suddenly he appears again, swinging a 7-foot flagpole at the officer. Blanford fires his weapon. Manyoun was taken to the University of Louisville Hopital, where he died.

“I think the officer felt like he was in danger of being killed or suffering serious physical injury, which would allow him under the law and under our policies to go to that option,” Conrad said, according to AP. “And quite frankly, when you’ve got somebody coming at you with a dangerous instrument, I don’t know that the officer had an opportunity to transition to a less lethal option.”

Activists met late on Sunday. They attributed the shooting to racial bias and questioned why the officer responded with deadly force, when pepper spray or a Taser would have been more appropriate against a reportedly intoxicated man.

Manyoun, who emigrated from Africa several years ago, according to AP, lived near the intersection where Blanford shot him. Manyoun had a number of previous alcohol-related offenses, including an arrest on June 2 for disorderly conduct. He did not speak English, so his neighbors wonder whether communication was a contributing factor.

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It’s also unclear why Blanford approached Manyoun. The police chief said he may have fit the description of a man suspected of a recent nearby assault of a woman. Conrad believes that Manyoun was the perpetrator.   

The Louisville Metro Police Department’s public integrity unit will conduct an investigation and submit its findings to the commonwealth attorney.

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Read more at the Associated Press