20-year-old Reynaldo Cuevas and the bodega's manager were being held at gunpoint by three masked gunmen inside Aneurys Deli Grocery on Franklin Avenue in Morrisania.
A customer who became aware that a robbery was in progress phoned the police, and four officers were dispatched to the scene. Once they arrived, two of the three men, Orlando Ramos and Ernesto Delgado, ran into the store's backroom, leaving their accomplice, Christopher Dorsey, unarmed and alone.
Seizing an opportunity to run, Cuevas and the manager took off towards the door, but, on his way out, Cuevas, who had his head down, reportedly stumbled into an officer who had his gun drawn and was subsequently shot.
Cuevas was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
"Mr. Cuevas, in an understandable effort to get away from the gunman as fast as possible, ran straight into the officer," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference this afternoon. "[They] became entangled at which point, we believe, the officer accidentally discharged his weapon with one round entering Mr. Cuevas' left shoulder."
Witnesses at the scene say no words were exchanged before the fatal shooting.
"He came out scared. The cops didn't say anything; no one did," an unidentified witness told the New York Times. "He ran out with his hands out, and they shot him. It was an honest mistake because the cops were frightened, as they were patrolling, he came running out."
A standoff with the suspects lasted three hours, but all three were eventually apprehended.
The officer who shot Cuevas was assigned to administrative duty while an internal investigation is ongoing.