Updated: Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010, 6:22 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010, 9:02 AM EDT
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - A 32-year-old man was shot to death by a Battle Creek police officer early Wednesday morning after he confronted the officer with a knife, police said.
Leroy Leslie Nelson, 32, was shot around 4:45 a.m. after police responded to a call in the area near Oakhill Drive and Echo Street.
It all began around 11 p.m. Tuesday, said Amanda Smith, Nelson's girlfriend. Battle Creek police ticketed Nelson for drinking in public. Smith talked with her boyfriend a few more times and planned on meeting up with him, but eventually lost contact.
Around 3 a.m., officers found Nelson blocks from his home. He was uncooperative, had a knife and struggled with two officers, police said. One of them, a 9-month employee of the department, shot and killed Nelson.
But there must have been another way to control him, said Smith, adding that Nelson was a good man.
"It didn't have to happen," Smith said. "They could (have done) anything. They could have Tased him. They could have arrested him. They didn't have to kill him.
"He was a very interesting person. He had a strong personality, and he was very loving and caring. He had his own problems, but he was supposed to be on medication for them."
Nelson stopped taking his medication because he was looking for a job and worried about testing positive in a drug test, said Smith, who admitted Nelson was drunk.
He also was well-known by police, Smith said. They should have known how to handle him, she added.
"They just killed him and it's not right," Smith said. "It's not right at all."
Michigan State Police will handle the investigation. The name of the officer who shot Nelson has not been released. He has been put on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
Police Chief Jackie Hampton declined a request for an on-camera interview Wednesday. His department, he said, took at least four phone calls regarding Nelson's behavior between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
In 1996, Nelson was convicted of felony armed robbery and sentenced to three to 10 years. In 2007, he pleaded no-contest on a nonsufficient funds check charge, and in 2008, pleaded no-contest to embezzling less than $200.