The names of the officers and the suspect were not immediately released because some family members had not yet been notified.
The officers had noticed an older model Chevrolet Caprice moving in tandem with another vehicle and became suspicious, Bealefeld said. They found marijuana in the car and were arresting one of two passengers, but the driver hesitated to get out.
"He was reluctant, and now we know why," Bealefeld said.
The man struggled with officers and managed to break away, grabbed a handgun from the car and started shooting. The officers returned fire, killing him. Police recovered a .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun at the scene, the commissioner said.
Bealefeld commended the officers who were shot and other officers who have been working to get guns off the street and make the city safer. He has directed officers to target enforcement efforts toward "bad guys with guns" in the city long plagued by violence.
The city has seen fewer killings in recent years. In 2009, there were 238 homicides and officials have said violent crime has been reduced.
Bealefeld said Sunday that some people may object to him referring to criminals as "idiots and maniacs." However, he said those words weren't strong enough for the families of the officers and other shooting victims.