A South Philadelphia man who pointed a pellet gun at a police officer was fatally shot in the chest after ignoring several demands to put down the gun, said a police spokesman.

Justin Kennedy, 19, of the 1400 block of South 20th Street, had threatened to shoot the officer Wednesday night, said Police Lt. Frank Vanore.

The officer, who was not identified by police, fired once.

The incident came in a year when the department has lost two officers, both shot in the line of duty, and during a drastic rise in the number of shootings at police.

Vanore said Kennedy and another man had just left Lid's Cafe Society Bar at 23d and Tasker Streets about 11:20 p.m. and were arguing.

The officer, who was nearby doing paperwork in his cruiser, intervened, and Kennedy pulled out the gun and threatened him, Vanore said.

Several witnesses told police they heard the officer identify himself and order Kennedy to drop the gun, Vanore said.

After Kennedy was shot and the handgun recovered, police learned that it was a pellet gun. Kennedy was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was pronounced dead at 11:43 p.m.

The incident is under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau. The officer has been placed on desk duty during the investigation.

Kennedy, who had a criminal history including arrests for car theft, drugs, and making terroristic threats, was the 11th person killed by police this year, compared with 15 people fatally shot in 2007.

This year, officers have discharged their weapons 71 times, including accidental discharges and dog shootings. Last year, there were 93 discharges.

Meanwhile, the number of times that police have been shot at is up considerably - 195 times this year compared with 41 times last year.

In September, Sgt. Patrick McDonald was shot to death by a fleeing suspect less than six months after his former partner, Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, was fatally shot by a fleeing bank robber. Last year, Officer Chuck Cassidy was fatally shot as he interrupted a robbery in progress.

Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 215-854-2641 or bboyer@phillynews.com.