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Rookie Las Vegas officer shoots, wounds gun-wielding man

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS- A rookie police officer shot and wounded a man accused of running away and fumbling with a handgun before pointing it at officers trying to question him about a convenience store robbery, officials said.

The wounded man, who was not immediately identified, was hospitalized Thursday with a stomach wound, but was expected to survive, police said.

It was the 20th shooting this year involving Las Vegas police, who have drawn criticism for a spike in the number of officer-involved shootings. Eleven people have died this year due to Las Vegas police use of deadly force, including one who was stunned with a Taser.

By comparison, the department was involved in 13 shootings in all of 2005, including nine that left suspects dead. Coroner's inquests cleared officers in each case.

Sheriff Bill Young and department supervisors deny officers are trigger-happy, and say each case has been unique.

"We're seeing more and more people who not only carry weapons, but in many cases are willing to pull those weapons out when they are being confronted by police," Deputy Police Chief Greg McCurdy told reporters after the 6:21 p.m. Wednesday shooting.

The officer involved recently graduated from the police academy and was with a training supervisor, police said. The rookie officer was placed on paid administrative leave under department policy pending a review of the shooting, and his name was to be withheld for 48 hours.

Police said the officers were questioning two men in the parking lot of a commercial center about two miles northwest of the Las Vegas Strip when one man ran, pulled a gun, dropped it, picked it up and turned toward police.

The officer fired two shots, hitting the man once, McCurdy said.

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