When the officers attempted to stop him, Lt. John Stanford, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department said, he fled into the alleyway, pursued by police.
The man reached into his waistband area and turned toward the officers, they said, pointing an object at them.
One officer made the split-second decision to shoot, hitting the man on his left side.
No gun was found at the scene. Officers found a cell phone, hat, and unspecified narcotics, Stanford said.
The officers took the male to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11 p.m.
Stanford could not release the man's name pending notification of family. He described him as a 47-year-old black male with 21 prior arrests relating to narcotics, theft, assault, and burglaries – "no stranger to police," he said.
Police had not determined Saturday afternoon whether the man was involved in the robbery.
Friday's shooting was the first police-involved shooting of the year, Stanford said, and "shows the danger officers are in and tough decisions that have to be made."
Internal Affairs investigates all police-involved shootings, and the District Attorney's Office reviews the file and investigates as well.
The officer who shot the man has been placed on administrative duty, Stanford said. The lieutenant declined to identify the officer, citing policy.
Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220, email@example.com, or on Twitter @elaijuh.