The man suddenly pulled out an object as police instructed him to identify himself late Sunday, at which point an officer fired off several shots, fatally injuring the man, a police spokesman said.
Attempts to resuscitate the man failed.
According to an initial police report, the elderly man drew “an object like a weapon” from his trousers and aimed it directly at the 35-year-old officer standing right in front of him.
According to the report, the object the man pulled out was not a firearm.
Police had been called to the scene by residents concerning damage to property and disturbance caused by the 74-year-old.
A homicide squad from the city of Essen has launched an investigation independent of Bochum police.
The officer involved has not been suspended from duty as investigations proceed. He and his companion officer were reported to be receiving medical attention.
Last year, police gunfire killed 14 people and injured another 39, according to figures from the German Police University in Muenster. In 2016, 11 people were killed and 28 injured by police gunfire.
Stephan Hegger of the GdP police union said officers faced a difficult situation when they choose to open fire. “When a threat arises from a person a short distance away, they have to take a decision,” he said.
Aiming at arms or legs could lead to an injury with a response from the injured party. “One has to have a reliable shot. There may be no second chance,” Hegger said.
Hegger attributed the rise in fatalities caused by police to an increase in the number of knife attacks. “These attacks can rapidly become fatal. Officers have to defend themselves,” he said.