"If they're going to kill him, I want to take some pictures. I want to record it," Rocha said.
Kennedy had been smoking marijuana near the military recruiting station in Times Square about 3 p.m. Saturday when officers approached, police said. It was the start of an encounter that would stretch for seven of the most crowded blocks in New York City in the middle of the afternoon and end minutes later with 12 gunshots and many witnesses.
As officers spoke to Kennedy, he became agitated, pulled out an 11-inch knife and began to put a bandanna on his head, police said. He ignored repeated orders to drop the knife and began backing away, continuing for blocks as he waved the knife and drew many officers into a slow-speed pursuit that lured onlookers.
"You see something like this, you want to record it," Rocha said. Many others apparently felt the same way.
Though Rocha stayed put, held back by his wife's insistence, others following the chase pulled out cellphones to capture footage and, in some cases, offer commentary.
"They're going to shoot you, boy," a man's voice is heard yelling on a video that an onlooker provided to the New York Times.
According to police, officers pepper-sprayed Kennedy six times but he held on to the knife throughout, wiping the spray off his face. Finally, he lunged at officers and two shot him in the torso, police said.
Kennedy was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital.
Kennedy, who lived in Hempstead, N.Y., and was a native of South Carolina, had been arrested 10 times, including seven for marijuana possession, police said. In 2008, he was taken to a hospital for observation after knocking down garbage cans in Times Square.