MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: As racial tensions simmer in Ferguson,
Missouri, there's been another shooting death at the hands of the
The news comes as protests continue to career out of control over the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown earlier this month.
Our North America correspondent Jane Cowan is in Missouri and I spoke to her a short time ago.
JANE COWAN: Well this happened, Michael, in the city of St Louis, which is about 7 kilometres from Ferguson. We know that police have shot dead a man who was allegedly robbing a convenience store. He was shot after he refused to put down a knife and was apparently telling police to shoot him, acting erratically, possibly displaying mental health issues.
Let's have a listen to how St Louis police chief Sam Dotson is explaining it.
SAM DOTSON: Both officers are out of the car. When they initially got out of the car they did not have their weapons drawn. When the suspect displayed his knife they drew their weapons. The officers are giving the suspect verbal commands: "Stop, drop the knife, stop, drop the knife".
Suspect moved towards the passenger, the police officer that was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, at which time he came within three to four feet of the officer and the officer shot. Both officers fired their weapons, striking he suspect, and the suspect is deceased.
As we talked to witnesses in the area, several witnesses have confirmed that story. Witnesses have heard the suspect saying, "Shoot me now, kill me now, shoot me." The alderwoman said she could see the officers giving voice commands to the suspect, "Put the knife down, back up, put the knife down," and he was not complying.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: So the shooting was not related to the protests, clearly, but the timing is fairly bad, isn't it, given the tension?
JANE COWAN: Incredibly bad timing. And people were yelling at the police chief during this press conference where he was trying to explain the incident. It really does speak to the reality, though, of what police are dealing with every day in many communities across the US.
It does appear that both officers fired their weapon, Michael. The police are investigating how many shots were fired. One witness has actually described this particular case a 'suicide by cop'.
The police chief though has been taking questions about why are police officers not using Tasers rather than deadly force, for instance. And, you know, he was asked the question: "Given how tense things are and what's just happened in Ferguson, did you not tell your men to exercise particular caution at the moment?" And this is how the police chief responded:
SAM DOTSON: I think officer safety is the number one issue. So if you're the family of a police officer and somebody approaches you within three feet with a knife, I think you have the right to defend yourself and protect yourself. So I think it certainly is reasonable that an officer has an expectation to go home at the end of the night.
I think we can all understand what's going on in Ferguson, but I think everybody, every police officer that's out here has a right to defend themselves and the community.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: St Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson and our North America correspondent Jane Cowan there.