News


Man fatally shot by Palo Alto police identified

William David Raff, 31, gunned down after allegedly charging police officers with knife

The man who was fatally shot by Palo Alto police officers outside a Forest Avenue group home on Friday, Dec. 25, was identified Monday by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office as William David Raff.

Raff, 31, was shot just outside a home for residents with mental-health issues. The home is operated by La Selva, a program of Momentum For Mental Health.

Police said Raff was shot moments after he began charging at the officers with a knife. Raff was then taken to a hospital, where he later died, according to a press release the police department issued early on Saturday morning.

The shooting happened less than 10 minutes after Raff reportedly called police to report a disturbance at the home on the 600 block of Forest Avenue. Police said the caller reported a person -- whose name was provided -- at the home wanted to harm someone, the caller said.

Police said the call was a false emergency that was intended to bring officers to the scene. When officers arrived a few minutes later, Raff immediately charged at them while armed with a knife and while in the street, police said. Two officers fired their pistols at him at 9:23 p.m., police said.

The investigation indicated that he may have been waiting outside for the police. Police also said that there was no one at the house with the name that was given during the 911 call.

A neighbor said she heard about three to four gunshots Friday night but decided to dismiss them as fireworks or pre-New Year's celebrations.

No officers were injured at the scene. Raff was transported to a local hospital for treatment but died from the injuries.

Police said the two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure for investigations of officer-involved shootings. The officers' names will be released in the next few days, according to police.

Police sealed off Forest Avenue from Webster Street to Middlefield Road during the investigation.

The neighbor, who declined to give her name, said there has never been any violence at the mental health treatment facility in the eight years she has lived there. The facilities director assured her in the past that La Selva does not allow anyone who is violent to live there.

"It must have been a misunderstanding, but he shouldn't be losing his life. I feel bad for the person," she said.

Police have come when some residents lit fires in the backyard near the fence. But whenever there were any concerns, staff has jumped on it right away, she said. If someone is playing music too loud or basketball in the backyard too late, she just calls the house and the issue is addressed, she said. Many residents have lived quietly at the home for years, she added.

"I wouldn't want anyone to think that this neighborhood is unsafe, because it isn't," she said.

"I do know that some of the people have garden-variety illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder, but many people in the community have those conditions," she said.

Michael Hayes, director of development and communications for Momentum, said in an email on Monday that the organization could not comment on details related to the incident.

"As you can imagine there is much sensitivity around this topic and really no ability to elaborate given this is still an open investigation," he wrote.

Momentum released a statement by email to Palo Alto Online on Monday morning that read in part:

"Our residential program located on Forest Avenue is a Transitional Residential program. It is fully licensed by the State of California Department of Social Services and Department of Health since 1979.

"We provide a program of care and support for our residents who are recovering from mental illness, primarily anxiety and depression. This program is staffed by over a dozen mental health professionals -- including psychiatrists, psychologists, nursing staff and experienced clinicians -- who usually work with 12 residents at a time.

"We carefully assess all referrals, excluding those with assaultive or sexual assaultive histories, as they would not be a good fit for our program nor the neighborhood. Many of our residents come directly from their homes in Palo Alto or local colleges and universities," the email stated.

Investigators from the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office were on scene Friday and are conducting a parallel investigation alongside the Palo Alto Police Department. Both entities worked through the night investigating the incident, the second release said.

Lt. Zach Perron said by email that whether the incident was captured by video or audio recording devices is part of the ongoing investigation. He did say that all department patrol cars are equipped with a five-camera video-recording system that also has audio-recording capabilities.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner and Editorial Assistant Sam Sciolla contributed reporting to this story.

Comments

32 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:13 am

This incident was completely out of line. The police overstepped their boundaries and now a man is dead or severely injured due to their excessive force. NAMI and other mental health advocacy groups will be contacted and address the injustice that occurred this evening. There was no reason or justification for this...


Like this comment
Posted by Another Neighbor
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:22 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


6 people like this
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:26 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


2 people like this
Posted by News
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:44 am

Tons of sorens over near Terman MS near midnight - related, ot related? I hate the way news feels so cagey aeound here...


96 people like this
Posted by Oh yeah
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 26, 2015 at 1:54 am

What did you expect the police to do differently?

Thank God the officer is alright.


76 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 2:29 am

[Portion removed.] I don't know the facts, I do live in the neighborhood and I do appreciate the job that the Palo Alto Police force does keeping us safe. [Portion removed.]


89 people like this
Posted by Another Neighbor
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2015 at 2:41 am

How is this an excessive use of force? If the person did in fact charge at the officers and was endangering the lives of others with a knife then it seems pretty damn justified. What would any of you do in the same situation if verbal communication failed and the person ran at you? Naw I guess we'd just hug them while they jabbed us with the knife right? This is an unfortunate incident, let the investigation sort this out.


101 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 4:05 am

I live directly across the street from the site where this unfortunate shooting took place. I heard the shots - it sounded like 4 in a very quick burst - and saw the response. The location is not a mental health facility, it's a very pleasant and quiet residential condo association. Police took my statement. The sirens went off within 10 seconds of the shots and the first responders arrived within 30 seconds. It's a tragic thing when somemone makes the mistake of charging an officer. Mental health, under the influence, whatever the reason, that person is now dead. But the officer also likely saved someone else in that residence from harm, perhaps even death. Many thanks to the PA police and emergency responders who handle events like these all the time and face great bodily risks to keep us safe.


9 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:11 am

Holidays often bring out these situations to people. Some things are not able to be controlled. Lucky no one else was harmed.


16 people like this
Posted by Surfer Dude
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:21 am

Yes. many sirens were heard here in Midtown also. And we are thankful that our dedicated police responded and accosted the dangerous suspect. It is also a shame that there are not other means such as taser, pepper spray, police dogs or tranquelizing darts that could have been used but Palo Alto has outlawed most options due to liabilities etc. and arguably such methods are sometimes ineffective. Sometimes the suspect may be unaffected by use of these options. Each situation requires that officers identify themselves and give the suspect opportunity to surrender peacefully. But in this case...the officer was most likely justified to use overwhelming force to protect the public and fellow police from injury and possibly death. It was also possible that the suspect could have escalated the situation had he been also carrying a firearm. Police just do not know what to expect. It is unknown who the suspect was and what he did from the article...or if he was indeginous, black, asian, white, latino, etc., under the unfluence or mentally incapacitated.

We should all understand that all lives matter no matter what ethnicity. Maybe there will be more light shed as the story develops. But we also know that black knives matter...and they can be equally as deadly as a gun at close range...and police often have no choice but to defend themselves and the public at large with whatever means they have. And so in this case...they did just that using the tools at their disposal.

When some joker goes wild...it may be better off buried in the deck. It does not always happen in the movies where the police have every option to take down a suspect peacefully or with hand to hand combat. And limiting guns, police training and creating "gun free zones" is not the answer either.


21 people like this
Posted by Gert
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:23 am

I don't think the officers did anything wrong here, but isn't the legal standard for a citizen defending himself/herself to match the level of force? As in, if you're attacking me with a knife, I'm justified in pulling out a knife but not a gun?

And don't these officers carry and receive training on non-lethal weapons like tasers?


55 people like this
Posted by Ruth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:31 am

If he/she did charge the officer with a knife, then he/she paid ultimate price. Glad the officers are safe.


27 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:55 am

Thankfully it was a knife and not a gun.

There is such a thing as suicide by police shooting. I wonder if this was it on Christmas night.

Very sad.


5 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2015 at 9:36 am

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Trish
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:09 am

Im sure it's much more to this story than the press release states.


49 people like this
Posted by Questions
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:16 am

We all know at this point from national media that without video or citizen witnesses, what the police say when they shoot someone should not be taken at face value. Saying someone lunged at them is a standard part of their playbook. Could be true, but also it might not be. Were they wearing body cams? Was there a citizen witness? Why didn't they shoot him or her in the leg or use other tactics rather than using deadly force? With multiple officers present and allegedly being charged at, were there no other options than deadly force? What is the background of the person who was shot? What is the track record of the cop who did the shooting? Imagine, for example, if the headline were, cops shoot mayor/millionaire/grandma/etc., this scenario doesn't seem to happen. Let's hope the investigation will address all of this. If it was justified, then it was, but as citizens we can't take what the police say at face value, unfortunately, even in Palo Alto. If this were your family member, you would want these questions answered. As a community, we should too. We should value our police but still require accountability of them in how they do their job.


19 people like this
Posted by yet another neighbor
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:21 am

Contrary to what a previous poster said, it was not a condo association but a psychiatric care facility where the incident took place. Go to thelaselvagroup.org/residental and you'll see it. I see police cars with flashing lights there on a regular basis, but as far a I know nothing like this has happened in the last few years since I moved to the neighborhood.


7 people like this
Posted by yet another neighbor
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:25 am

Sorry, the website I mentioned above for the care facility where the incident took place is www.thelaselvagroup.org/residential (it doesn't work without the www prefix).


48 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:28 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Questions asks, "Why didn't they shoot him or her in the leg..."

You've been watching too much TV. It's hard enough to hit center of mass much less a leg. I'm surprised you didn't ask why the cop didn't shoot the knife out of his hand.


28 people like this
Posted by annonomous please
a resident of Addison School
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:30 am

well here we go again. another one bites the dust. Another civilian killed by the police. I am sure they feel justified in their killing. After all, it was self defense. A crazed angry upset person, maybe mental illness, maybe not, charging at them at a full foot speed with a knife in hand and got close enough to the officer to make a deadly wound. What choice did the officer have but to open fire multiple times at point blank range to get this person down and get themselves and the community out of harms way. NOT…What probably really happened is a very different version. I AM sure that the person with the knife was acting in a violent manner. And I AM sure there was a need to get him down. But really? did multiple shots have to be fired at him in a deadly manner? Why not pepper spray? stun gun? bean bag bullets? or, maybe not aim at his chest. How about shoot at a foot? Leg? I know if any of these tactic were used, it would have stopped a lone someone with a knife. And NOT killed him. Do we need gun control? hell yes. Do we need a retraining of the police departments heavy force behavior? absolutely!! I have a mental ill family member. I fear that some day some thing minor incident may happen and a heavily armed over "eager to fire" police officer will get to the scene. I dont need to say what I fear the most, everyone knows the outcome….sad, very sad


21 people like this
Posted by refugio
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:33 am

No Gert, you don't have to match the level of force if someone attacks you and is trying to kill you. You may not have a knife at hand so you can use a baseball bat or your cane with an icepick embedded in the handle, or you can hit him in the head with a large rock, or use brass knuckles, or run him over with your Prius.


Posted by Bunyip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow

on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:50 am


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43 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 26, 2015 at 11:01 am

Speculating on whether or not this incident was justified or not without knowing any of the facts is irresponsible, unfair, and quite frankly insulting to everyone involved. Best to allow the investigation to be carried and see what that reveals.

There a few if any upsides to these tragic encounters. I am thankful that the officers and no other innocent parties lost their lives. The police are all too often called into these dangerous, unpredictable situations. They are required to make split second decisions in these volatile encounters which most of us, including many knee-jerk critics, could ever be capable of making much less stepping up and taking on the task themselves.




22 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 26, 2015 at 11:18 am

It is disappointing to see so many posters jumping to conclusions with so few facts at hand. We don't even know if it was a butter knife or a machete. Knee-jerk reactions will not help the community deal with this unfortunate situation.


17 people like this
Posted by lindaloo
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2015 at 11:58 am

Have a look at the Yelp reviews for the La Selva/Momentum group. Frightening.


27 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 26, 2015 at 11:58 am

What we need to know immediately is whether or not the cameras and audio recorders worked as there has been a plethora of problems with the PAPD's recording equipment actually working in past incidents of use of force.


5 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm

This is a tragic story. My comment is not about the details of this news. Much still has to be released. It is too soon to determine what to think.

I write merely to point out the Palo Alto Weekly moderator removed posts, indicating those people posted comments under multiple names.

Perhaps overlooked is if a person comments from one of the Palo Alto public libraries, there may in fact be a number of different people posting, but only one computer system number to identify it, giving an appearance that one person is using multiple names.

While that may be true, please consider that it may not be the case?

Note from Palo Alto Online moderator: The "multiple name" posts were not made from the library. We know the IP addresses of the library and assume posters from those addresses are not the same person.


28 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I think a lot of commenters fail to realize how quickly somebody charging with a knife can close a 20-foot distance.

A knife is a deadly weapon. Even though it's terrible that somebody lost their life last night because of this, I don't think the police acted with excessive force in this situation.


66 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I am really tired of people siding with criminals and the public and disrespecting our law enforcement. Policemen are not invincible super heroes - they need to save their own lives but somehow people think the person with the long rap sheet is more trustworthy than the officer who chose the profession to keep the public safe. Sure, there are bad apples, but they exist in every profession. I suggest that those cop-haters join the force and experience the ongoing fear our law enforcement encounters, but the cop-haters are likely too fearful to join because it's much easier to criticize. The next time the cop-haters need help from the police, they should be banned from asking. You can't just like them when you need them.


6 people like this
Posted by Rick Bentley
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Were there no less than lethal options available to these officers? How big was this man and how big was the alleged knife? Tazer? Mace? Billy club?

ALL we have so far is the PD's press release, and we know how wildly far from reality they often end up being (with almost never anyone charged for issuing intentionally inaccurate ones).

[Portion removed.]


Posted by v4vendetta
a resident of Crescent Park

on Dec 26, 2015 at 1:46 pm


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1 person likes this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 2:00 pm

The 300 block of Forest was closed last night at 10pm. Was that related to this incident?


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm

This incident raises another issue:

Are locations of psychiatric care facilities located in otherwise residential neighborhoods disclosed?

I'm sure many living in the area or passing by a psychiatric facility would want to know.


7 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I appreciate that the police is between a rock and a hard place if someone charges them with a knife but in some other countries police would have employed a shield so that in the end nobody gets hurt and the officers are not endangered. Apparently, PA police doesn't either own or train for the use of a shield. I wouldn't say this was a case of excessive force per se' it was probably avoidable if the resources existed. It's time for PA police to modernize and use tools more adequate to respond to these cases in which the officer responding will also suffer with the response it was forced to take given no alternative.


2 people like this
Posted by Mr Ed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I heard the shots from here at about 9:30 or so....in quick sequence. The shots were from the officer, right? The area is a quite, expensive, residentail location. It's a pretty sad when we have Police killing "bad guys" in these quite, expensive, resdential locations don't you think? Even worse when we have crazed people knives and weapons walking about! So the next quesiton you ask yourself, what am I doing here right? Believe me folks, this is a scary situation. Next thing you know it will be a daily occurence. Stay indoors and have some bulletproof glass installed.


10 people like this
Posted by Overkill
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Overkill.
Contain the person. Use a shield, a net, a taser. Back up! [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by Normal person
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm

I'm glad the officers are physically safe. Now they have to deal with the fact that they were forced to end the life of person to protect their own. People don't seem to understand that officers are human just like them. They do their thankless, dangerous jobs without fanfare and are villainized by those who don't make a difference in society. I know I can sleep soundly in my house every night because these men and women are out there protecting me and my family. I don't even know what I would do if someone rushed me a knife. Most of you critics would probably just crap in your shorts just like me. If I had a gun I'd probably use it so I don't die and my kids won't be fatherless and my wife won't be a widow. Kinda like what those officers were probably thinking. Yes, there are plenty of ahole cops out there and I've been pulled over by them before. But a majority of my encounters with them have been decent. You want to catch a cop off guard? Thank them for what they do and you will see genuine surprise and appreciation. I don't normally comment on things on here. [Portion removed.] This time I've had it. Shoot them in the leg or arm? Equal amount of force? Are you people real? [Portion removed.] Who does that unless they intend on doing harm to the officers or they want to die?! I'm a vet and actually fought for you "citizens". It would be better world if people like you would just thank cops, doctors, firemen, and soldiers for what they do and move on your merry way and drink your lattes and shove your faces in your laptops.


1 person likes this
Posted by saw police cars
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2015 at 6:20 pm

There were couple of police cars on NW corner of Forest just off Middlefield around 10:30pm last night. I didn't look at the clock, I was driving by, assumed it was a traffic stop.


35 people like this
Posted by WTF
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 26, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Why in the world is there a mental health facility in a residential neighborhood? Isn't there a law regarding proximity to residences, schools, playgrounds, and children?


25 people like this
Posted by Lawyer
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 26, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Why didn't the police use nonlethal means such as a taser? Lethal force for a mentally ill person with a knife sees disproportionate. I hope that the police were wearing body cameras so that we can see the interaction. I recently watched the police handcuff a mentally ill woman who had done nothing more than walk in the street rather than on the sidewalk in a quiet residential area endangering no one, not even herself. She was minding her own business and ended up detained. While the stop may or may not have exceeded the bounds of a Terry stop (not clear whether handcuffing necessarily constitutes arrest) it absolutely is custodial and therefore she should have been giving Miranda rights, which she was not. Instead, she was handcuffed and questioned for at least 20 minutes, while I observed. I later asked the officers why she was not given Miranda rights and was told that the department does not give them unless there is an arrest. I tried to explain that the criteria under the 4th and 5th amendments are different, but they kept saying to my friend (also a lawyer) and myself "ladies, we know what we are doing," and being generally dismissive. Given that the woman was eventually released (after a lengthy and humiliating detention and questioning) I decided that I wasn't getting anywhere with these officers and walked away.

The police officers believe, incorrectly, that if a suspect is not placed under arrest that any interrogation is non-custodial in nature. This is based on a misreading of the case of California v.Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121 (1983) (per curiam). At least one Judge of the Ninth Circuit recently cast doubt on the interpretation of Beheler by police departments all over California, arguing that the police have misconstrued the holding of Beheler and interpreted it to mean that if a suspect is told that he is not under arrest and is "free to go" then he does not need to be given Miranda rights. While that is probably wrong, it is irrelevant to what I witnessed, because in that case, the woman was repeatedly asking to go, and asking if she was free to go, and the police handcuffed her and detained her and she was not at all free to go. Nor did they ever tell her she was free to go, or that she was not under arrest.

Thus, whatever the relative merits of the PAPD interpretation of Beheler, it was irrelevant to this poor woman's case. She was not ever told she was free to go. She was held on the street by no fewer than 4 police officers and handcuffed. She was given a medical examination against her will and while in handcuffs by the PAFD, who found nothing. Following that sideshow, she was unhandcuffed, but they continued to interrogate her about where she lived, where she was going, and why she was in this nice neighborhood. She was never told she was "free to go." Therefore the interrogation was custodial as it took place under conditions that were self-evidently and extremely coercive.

More to the point, this woman was minding her own business walking along. She had her belongings in a plastic bag, and she wasn't bothering anyone. But she was clearly mentally ill and she was in a very nice neighborhood, a block from Larry Page's house, and so it was clearly time for her to get picked up and moved along and dropped in Sunnyvale where one officer repeatedly offered to take her, even though she repeatedly said she did not want to go there.

Clearly our police need better training in dealing with the homeless and mentally ill.


3 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Dec 26, 2015 at 7:17 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by I have some Questions
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 26, 2015 at 7:55 pm

So I have some questions for many of the posters here who obviously have no idea what happened.

[Portion removed.]

How do we know if the police tried other means to stop this person? They haven't said they haven't, they just haven't fully investigated and verified all the details yet.

why does the media think they have a right to every detail before the prosecuting authority has a chance to review the facts and take appropriate action?

Lets wait a couple weeks and see what details develop before we second guess, speculate, and judge something we know nothing about.

Oh because we wouldn't want the truth to get in the way of a good story or someone's personal bias.


9 people like this
Posted by Focus
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:05 pm

So police get a call that someone is in danger....show up on high alert...someone charges them with a knife...and the assailant gets killed. Sorry, but if those are the facts, police did the right thing. Unfortunate if the attacker has mental issues, but the police need to protect themselves from an attacker.

Also sounds like this was an ambush from the new update. Not sure what else the police could have realistically done.


Like this comment
Posted by WTH
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:11 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:12 pm

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Real lawyer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:19 pm

To "lawyer"
First- this is a discussion about the shooting that occurred on Christmas that killed a human being and changed the lives of several officers forever. This is not a forum to get on your soapbox and cite law incorrectly.
Second- without getting on my own soapbox, you should read up on your case law regarding detentions and arrest. I actually have 15 years of criminal law in case you're wondering.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm

I assume that the police were doing what they were trained to do. I would like police supervisors to state what non-lethal methods police are trained in for dealing with suspects with knives, and, why none of these techniques were used in this case.

Quote from article cited at the bottom:

"This massive disparity is what led Christian Science Monitor writer Sara Miller Llana to investigate why the number of shots fired by police is so low in other countries around the world, and what America can learn from tactics used by police around the world to reduce violence.

"As a handful of highly publicized police shootings fray already taut relations between police and black communities in the US, experts and law enforcement authorities are searching for ways to solve a pressing social problem – and wondering whether other nations might hold lessons in how to do it," Llana writes.

"Even countries with the highest crime rates in the world see significantly lower numbers of fatal deaths by police. British officers shot their guns just 51 times between 2003 and 2013. Canada had only 12 fatal police shooting between 1999 and 2009. In Japan, no one has been shot by the police since 2012."

Here are a couple of articles from June/July:

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by To Michael
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Thank you officers for protecting us. I'm sorry you put your life on the line for citizens who don't understand and make your job thankless. Please know we are thinking of you during this difficult time.


2 people like this
Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Dec 26, 2015 at 9:23 pm

I don't believe the PAPD is equipped with tasers.


16 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm

If you do not like the outcome then do something about metal health support in California!


6 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2015 at 10:17 pm

PAPD use a taser against a knife wielder at the Old Pro last year.
If you can't use a taser against someone with a knife, when can you use them?
We'll see if the police deployed their video system.


Like this comment
Posted by La
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Dec 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 26, 2015 at 11:46 pm

@chris: In the case of the Old Pro incident, there was a reported knife, but the guy wasn't brandishing it. The police showed up, he ran, and they tasered him. They then found the knife in his backpack. In this case, the guy was wielding the knife, so it was a life threatening situation. In a life threatening situation, you can't rely on a taser, so he got shot.


19 people like this
Posted by Critical Thinker
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 27, 2015 at 12:04 am

I am a member of the La Selva Group community and just learned about this tragedy from the news report. I probably knew the victim, and I feel heartbroken for him. Whoever he is, he does not deserve any of the labels that some posters/commenters have given here (eg. "bad apple").

The La Selva Group is a warm and nurturing community that belongs in Palo Alto. I so appreciate those Palo Altans who are keeping an open mind and waiting for more details along with the police video. It's right to be skeptical of the early reports.

I also understand that the police may have had little time to choose to respond differently. I consider myself a supporter of law enforcement, but that doesn't mean that police always, every time, make the best choices.


11 people like this
Posted by The TRUTH
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 27, 2015 at 3:11 am

I think it is good for people to express their thoughts, but we need to understand this is a tragic incident for all involved. A (reported) MH client lost his live and his family, friends and staff are grieving there loss.

I clearly understand that the cops have a tough job and make quick decision when these kind of incidents arise. I truly feel for the officers involved, they didn’t ask for this either.

I just ask you all to wait for all the FACTS to come out. There was NEVER any reports of this reported MH subject threatening anyone in the program as reported in the media, nor was he brandishing a [portion removed] knife at anyone one in the facility. This info from the Media is just NOT true. What information was initially reported to the operator dispatch and was there follow up information to the dispatcher? What was reported to the officers dispatched to the scene? Did the officer know he had a [portion removed] knife? How far away from the officers was the reported subject with the knife when this all started? What witness were present? Did the officer know this was a MH facility, clients and weapon was a [portion removed] knife?

Something to think about when we make judgements on this incident!!! All life’s matter!!!


13 people like this
Posted by Past client of La Selva
a resident of another community
on Dec 27, 2015 at 4:52 am

I hope that everyone in the community will have resources and support in working through the many issues and feelings these events provoke. I hope for this for all members of the community, including neighbors, police, staff and clients of La Selva. To me this is a cornerstone of mental health, and I wish this for all involved.

There is grief for the loss of one of our friends and neighbors, along with the sense of loss that comes with knowing that someone who was struggling emotionally is now dead.

There are the many many questions about how we can avoid such situations better -- by attending differently to the needs of people in mental health distress, or by different actions or training of the police.

I send my deep concern and gratitude to all of the staff and all of the clients (past and current) of La Selva at this time. May we all carry each other with love, and support. May we all take as much time as we need to grieve and to question and to do what we can to make our world better, safer, and more supportive for all.

As a past client of La Selva, I am deeply grateful for their program. That doesn't mean I hank it is perfect or cannot be improved. However I know of no comparable client-centered intensive therapy program. And by all means, the community needs La Selva, including the residential houses it runs.

I expect that La Selva will in some way be reaching out to the neighbors in the local community, and I hope that many community members will use this opportunity to get to know the staff and clients better.


15 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:34 am

In other civilized countries, even when cops use firearms, which is not nearly as often as in the US, they are trained to shoot as few shots as possible, and shoot to disarm, not to kill. In the US, cops shoot to kill, and fire multiple shots, which means that when cops use their firearms, the results are fatal most of the time.


19 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2015 at 8:04 am

When you put someone's life in peril, especially a police officer's, you are necessarily forfeiting your own. Unfortunately, it seems obvious from initial reports this individual knew the equation and this was a suicide by cop. A public servant was forced to kill someone on Christmas Day due to this suspect's mental instability.

The comments from some people here are astounding in their intellectual dishonesty. Pepper spraying, tasing or trying to "shoot to disarm" an individual charging with a knife means the officer will be stabbed by an even more aggravated person. One commenter suggested the police should have used tranquilzer darts. Perhaps PAPD should get tactical training from Saturday morning cartoons to better serve the unique insight of armchair experts.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tangina
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 27, 2015 at 9:58 am

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 10:35 am

I suppose the United State is the only nation in the entire civilized world where it's absolutely impossible to train cops to shoot to injure and disarm and not always shoot to kill. Policemen in other countries must have an entirely different DNA that enables them to be trained that way. American cops must be genetically unable to hit the shoulder or arm of a person close enough to stab them with a knife, but are excellent at scoring fatal shots. Their shooting range instructors must be awful, unlike those in other countries.


7 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

I suspect there is little genetic difference between police officers of various nationalities. However there is quite a gulf of practical logic between your Robocop fantasies and reality. Even if you could reliably shoot the limb of a person charging you, that's no guarantee you won't be subsequently stabbed or shot.


17 people like this
Posted by Former Mental Health Worker
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 27, 2015 at 12:22 pm

I worked for several years in facilities like this and in some facilities that were higher security. Working with the mentally ill population is hard work and can be quite dangerous. But with proper training situations like this can be safely diffused without resorting to killing a person. If a policeman isn't able to basket wrap a person with a [portion removed] knife then there is something lacking with the training they are receiving. It is something I have done on three separate occasions, once against a person quite a bit larger and stronger than I am and a known murderer on top of it.

I don't condemn these police officers, they are trained to shoot to kill - particularly to shoot to kill mentally ill persons - when presented with a physical confrontation. From the comments in this thread it is clear that the public is supportive of this policy and wants the police to continue to shoot and kill mentally ill people. I just want it to be known that with proper training situations like these can be diffused differently. We do have a choice to do things differently.


4 people like this
Posted by mauriio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Former Mental Health Worker
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Maurilo, the issue isn't whether the police are capable of shooting arms/legs etc. The issue is the training regarding use of force and escalation of force. When I was trained in use of force interventions physical confrontation was the 10th on the list of options available to me and of course I was never allowed to have a gun, let alone a weapon of any kind. Police officers in the US always come with guns and they resort to the use of them very quickly. What's more, they are trained to shoot at the easiest place to hit and to keep shooting until the suspect is inert.

The point is, this police officer was responding as trained. When I was trained the main issue was patient safety and patient rights. Police are not concerned with suspect safety or rights. Police are concerned with neutralizing threats. The public wants it this way and is concerned that it stays this way. Police will continue to kill the mentally ill population at a very high rate because apparently that's what we in the public want. It's my hope that public opinion would change if people realized that it doesn't have to be this way. But given the general fear concerning the mentally ill I'm not very optimistic.


11 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 27, 2015 at 12:52 pm

@mauriio - You claim that police in other countries are trained to "shoot to disarm" - can you cite a source, because that sounds like wishful thinking, not reality. Police are trained to shoot at center mass (body) because it is the largest target. And unlike Hollywood fantasies that inform a lot of people, it is hard to shoot and hit anything. FBI statistics on police shootings state 70-80% of shots miss the target entirely. To suggest shooting the knife out of hands, or shooting in the foot is absurd. Talk to most police officers and the vast majority have never fired their gun on the job (outside of training).


9 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Police in western Europe and other advanced countries are trained to use their weapons, if they are even allowed to carry any, only as a last resort, and if they use them, they are trained to do their utmost to injure, not kill their target. This is not disputable. In the US, the police are trained to resort to shooting very quickly, they shoot to kill, and they shoot multiple times, which make the odds of surviving police shooting very low. When an American cop mistakenly shoots an unarmed target thinking, justifiable or not that he is armed, he can't apologize to the target afterward, because the target is usually dead by then. This is a profound and fundamental difference between us and other nations, and is not disputable either.


6 people like this
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 27, 2015 at 2:07 pm

The "shoot to wound" fantasy postings on this board are comical at best. Cops are trained to use their firearms as a very last resort, by last resort that means to completely and permanently end the threat. Could you imagine the legal feeding frenzy that would ensue if they just "wounded" someone then that person continued to harm other people, unfathomable.


2 people like this
Posted by Friend
a resident of University South
on Dec 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Due process
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 27, 2015 at 3:24 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm

"Cops are trained to use their firearms as a very last resort"

Except in our country they often use it very quickly as a first resort, they shoot multiple times, and they shoot to kill as if they were combat soldiers in a battlefield, while in other civilized countries they don't, and they do manage to train their cops to shoot to disarm, not to kill, and shoot only as a last resort.


Like this comment
Posted by Due Process
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 27, 2015 at 5:48 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

I have no evidence to say this but it seems to me that police in other countries are less likely to expect someone about to attack them particularly if they are holding a knife to be armed with a gun also. I think police here are under the impression that nearly everyone causing any type of disturbance is likely to have a gun and will use it either against the police or against someone else. For this reason, they "shoot first and ask questions later". Anywhere else, the likelihood is that the knife would be the only weapon.

The gun culture is such that police expect attackers to be armed with guns, not knives. There have been many cases of police shooting someone with a knife, from a tiny woman with a Vietnamese vegetable knife to some type of ceremonial sword. At least I seem to remember a case of a man near Cal Ave with a sword, but can't remember him being shot by police though.


2 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:20 pm

@mauricio- you said police are trained to shoot to disarm, and that it is indisputable. How about instead of just claiming it is indisputable, just cite a reputable source. Unfortunately most people think they know a lot about police work because there are a lot of police tv shows and movies. That's fine as long as you understand that's just entertainment, not reality.

Do you consider Australia civilized?

==

He said shooting to wound "was not how police are trained".

"I wouldn't suggest they should be trained in that manner," he said.

"If you pull out a firearm, the intention is to kill ... that's why it's called lethal force.

"If you're not happy with killing someone you should not be pulling out your firearm.

"There's not an issue of maiming people ... police are trained to aim for biggest target and that's the central body mass and that's where you have most of your primary organs.

"You really can't expect police to be wounding people."

Since April, there have been six shootings in south-east Queensland, four of which were fatal.

A 32-year-old man armed with a knife was shot dead by officers on the Gold Coast last night, a day after a 51-year-old man was killed on the Sunshine Coast.

Last week, a man died after being shot twice by police at Kippa-Ring following reports of a number of hoax triple-0 calls.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:26 pm

I think this explains the difference between US Police training and European ditto and the different outcome

Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by maurico
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm

If you observe the body language of police here, compared to other advanced countries, they move with the swagger and agression of combat soldiers. They speak like combat soldiers and try to behave like them. It's hard to even remember they are actually public servants who are supposed to serve and protect. I remember once getting pulled over by a cop on a Los Angeles freeway, on my way home from a business meeting for allegedly switching lanes without signaling. I was slowly reaching for my back pocket to produce my wallet which had my driver license, per the cop's orders. I explained to the cop before hand that I was going to reach for my back pocket, yet the moment my hand started moving, he had his gun pointing at my temple while screaming profanities and threatening to shoot my head off. He was incredible agitated and seemed just half a step away from making good on his threats. I am, by the way, a white male, I was wearing business attire and was as non threatening and compliant as can be. I don't know any other advanced nation where this scenario would be possible.


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Mr.Recycle

Have you heard of anecdotal evidence. [Portion removed.]

Web Link

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:47 pm

@Mr Recycle, I have lived in several European countries and have observed their police behavior on may occasions. I'm vert familiar with the way police are trained in western Europe. I have friends in Holland, France and Italy who are police officers, and their training and general conduct is nothing like American cops. They behave nothing like police in the USA. Police forces in the US have become essentially armed militias who shoot first and often, then go absolved and unpunished by sympathetic, biased bodies, something that is eerily reminiscing of police states.


2 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:52 pm

@mauricio - So what you are saying is you can't cite a source. Let me suggest it is because it isn't true. Police everywhere are trained to shoot for center body mass. Police may be less likely to pull their gun and shoot in Europe, but it is a TV based fantasy that they are somehow trained to shoot to disarm.


3 people like this
Posted by wally
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 27, 2015 at 7:39 pm

wally is a registered user.

Police officers killed in the line of duty in Britain in last five years: 6

Police officers killed in the line of duty in the US in the last 5 years: 805.

Yes, US vs Europe police action is totally a valid comparison.


3 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2015 at 7:46 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 27, 2015 at 7:52 pm

"Except in our country they [police] often use it [deadly force] very quickly as a first resort, they shoot multiple times, and they shoot to kill as if they were combat soldiers in a battlefield, while in other civilized countries they don't..."

Crucial difference: The USA has a culture of violence. Civilized countries don't.


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Youtube has lots of videos showing similar situations in Europe...

Web Link

Web Link

No shots fired in the ones I checked. A gun seems like a cowards way out...


3 people like this
Posted by Observing PA
a resident of another community
on Dec 27, 2015 at 8:28 pm

"This is what it comes down to: "In the US, police training lasts on average 19 weeks," she writes, while "in much of Europe that would be unthinkable. In Germany, for example, police train for at least 130 weeks."

Apparently German police academy cadets are much less bright than American cadets. I wonder why that would be. Are you sure your information is correct?


"A gun seems like a cowards way out..."

Seems so from my armchair too.


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2015 at 8:30 pm

@Observing PA

Sitting in your armchair you obviously have access to internet. Try using it;-)


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2015 at 8:37 pm

@Observing PA

So you don't have to get up from your armchair to read previous posts, here is the source

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Observing PA
a resident of another community
on Dec 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm

"Sitting in your armchair you obviously have access to internet. Try using it;-)"

Why the sarcasm, my friend? I am agreeing with you. My armchair is quite far east from yours, as you will notice from my internet address.


5 people like this
Posted by Due Process
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 27, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Posts are being deleted as quickly as they are posted. Interesting meta-comment on this situation.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 28, 2015 at 12:45 am

In 40 years of European travels, I've seen many more police there carrying assault rifles than here in the U.S. Ask the next person returning from Paris.


3 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:34 am

@musical

Have you seen them using them? I was in Paris this Spring, yes we saw some heavily armed Police. No gunfire or Police killings that week though. Not much in other weeks either...


3 people like this
Posted by Frenchie
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:47 am

Mikael- Perhaps next time you travel to Paris, get a knife and test the thresh hold of the French Police.I'll bet dollars to doughnuts they'll light you up in grand fashion. Bon Voyage!


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:54 am

@Frenchie

Maybe, maybe not.

Web Link

"Suspect in custody"

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Tangina
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 28, 2015 at 8:11 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 28, 2015 at 8:13 am

"Mikael- Perhaps next time you travel to Paris, get a knife and test the thresh hold of the French Police.I'll bet dollars to doughnuts they'll light you up in grand fashion. Bon Voyage!"

No they won't. A few years ago Paris was subjected to 3 weeks of intense rioting. Not one person was killed, because the police never shot at the rioters.

To the poster who mentioned French police carrying semi automatic:they are faced with terrorism, those weapons are there to fight terrorists, but they don't shoot their own people

In our country, the police carry themselves and behave like military. They sometimes see the public , which they are supposed to serve and protect, and which pays their salaries, as the enemy, and in the military you are supposed to kill the enemy. They are often the ones to escalate situations that could have been defused without people getting killed. Why would a grandmother who was pulled over for supposedly a traffic violation and was unarmed end up getting beaten within an inch of her life?


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 8:25 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by WhenDidThatChange
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

Police used to carry night sticks. In my training, a night stick beats a knife every time. Easily.

Cops used to dole out a good old fashioned beating. Now it's instant death. When did that change?


14 people like this
Posted by Friend
a resident of another community
on Dec 28, 2015 at 9:10 am

This man was a friend of mind.
Regardless of what you may think, he was in a metal health center, he was unstable and seeking help. This is another case of police using lethal force without trying other options, pepper spray? Taser? Shoting a leg instead of [portion removed] in the chest!
[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

@Mikael, "Have you seen them using them? " Sixty years of living in Palo Alto I've never witnessed any police draw a gun, or anywhere else in the US. Overseas the assault rifles are in their hands constantly, but no I've never seen one fired in public (except in a Barcelona riot situation, which we hoped were just rubber bullets).


10 people like this
Posted by Chance
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:38 am

A 911 call from a known mental health facility. Police should know how to handle someone allegedly with a knife without using lethal force! I thought all of the Palo Alto police were trained to handle the mentally ill. Their reaction to this incident proves why I would be terrified of the police if I had to call for help for my mentally ill son. I am appalled. If NAMI is t already involved o will call them. We need a rapid response team for the mentally ill that does not involve the police. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:46 am

I support our police and as a law abiding citizen I am grateful that our Palo Alto police and police everywhere are there to keep people who are living according to our laws safe.

Part of what is keeping me and my family safe is our police force standing between a group of citizens in our society who believe that they do not have to consent to police personnel who questioning them, or are arresting them and taking them in for questioning. If that group of people would stand down and act respectfully, and their leaders would publicly endorse the fact that it is the police who have and must continue to have more power than all of us citizens --broadcast a message of compliance instead of rebellion toward authority, that particular group of citizens would would find themselves safer, as a group.

My father had "The Conversation" with me too; he said "son: when you are stopped by a policeman, whatever has happened always act with utmost respect. Whatever you do, they are in control" That is a conversation that most of us get, not those of us in one specific group. Why? Because that is the reality; and without that the entire system of police power--the "Police 'Force'" is eviscerated and rendered useless to us.

Thank you so much Palo Alto police--and all police men and women--for keeping those of us who are under you charge safe.


Like this comment
Posted by Tangina
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:47 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:51 am

@musical

Them was referring to you mentioning police in Paris carrying assault rifles. I grew up in Sweden. Not seen guns used there and I've been lucky enough to not have to witness it here either but the statistics speaks a clear language.

When I moved here in 2002 it didn't take more than a few weeks though before I was woken up by sirens and speakers blasting "down on the ground! hands behind your heads! etc." 5 Police cars and maybe 8-10 officers with drawn guns had cornered a car beneath my bedroom windows in the Marina district. As fas as I could see it was 5 black guys in a car in the wrong neighborhood. No shots fired that time but it was a brutal scene. I have army training and did guard duty at the royal castle in Stockholm so I have seen some stuff and I'm pretty experienced with guns but this country is headed backwards.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tangina
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

Every citizen has a right to defend themselves. If someone runs at a citizen with a knife he or she has the right to defend themselves including the police.


8 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Tangina
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:59 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Rose Gooch
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2015 at 11:07 am

This is called "death by police." It is not that uncommon. It is for some who are unable to terminate their lives themselves, and seek assistance. Unfortunately, it appears that the Police used excessive force.


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 28, 2015 at 11:12 am

Mikael raises excellent points- we are headed backwards when it comes to the lethal force and level of aggression that American cops use. [Portion removed.]

I've seen commentary using false equivalency between this tragedy and cops in the UK disarming the man with the machete. I think it's pretty easy to understand the police reaction on Friday: night time, it's dark, the person rushes toward you with a weapon. They aren't trained to de-escalate in a situation like that. How were they to tell it wasn't a gun? It possibly was a one person ambush. This desperate person used the police for their own literal ends. There's not enough info right now for the public to know exactly what happened, in what sequence, step by step.

Does anyone else recall when the Menlo cop committed suicide by cop, I think in Fremont? When the East Palo Alto civilian employee (and Palo Alto native) committed suicide by police in Sunnyvale? They forced their personal nightmare into the police and made them participate in it. It's manipulative, utterly desperate, tragic and nearly a guarantee of death in the US, where current police strategy means that suicidal tactics from civilians will succeed.


4 people like this
Posted by Apples-and-Oranges
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2015 at 11:19 am

> Police officers killed in the line of duty in Britain in last five years: 6
> Police officers killed in the line of duty in the US in the last 5 years: 805.

Police killed in the line of duty data in the US includes officers who died while directly trying to stop a crime, in traffic accidents that involve criminal action, in traffic accidents that do not involve criminal action, and health-related reasons, such as heart attacks/strokes/etc.
It’s pretty clear that the data provided for Britain is not the same as the US.

Officers killed in the line of duty in Britain
Web Link

> Yes, US vs Europe police action is totally a valid comparison.

If you are going to compare US data with European data—then why are you presenting US data and alleged British data? Europe and the Britain are not really the same thing.


3 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Dec 28, 2015 at 11:29 am

Note to liberals:

The right-wing thinks that Ferguson has disarmed police and is causing crime and murders to rise.


5 people like this
Posted by Zac
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Dec 28, 2015 at 11:36 am

[Portion removed.]

I'm distressed at the contrast between the current cultural value that fetuses are a sacred form of life that must be protected at any cost, including by the murder of adults; and the support being shown by Palo Altans for officers who have killed a mentally ill adult. At what point in our lives do we cross the line and become expendable? When born black? When reaching puberty? When autistic? When transgendered? What degree of mental distress or illness takes any of us across the line to being a "justified" target of a murderer in uniform?

It used to be that police were supposed to protect and to serve. They were trained to defuse tense situations. Now calling 911 is like throwing a match at a pool of gas: they charge in with weapons drawn, trigger happy, expecting to shoot. Instead of dreading killing a citizen, they have been trained to be prepared to do so. Like Cecil the lion killer, they must feel that zing of adrenaline when they do, not the dread and shame that is morally appropriate.

I don't think it's healthy to cheer on the police when they resolve a problem by killing. A better tone would be condolences and sadness for the officers who faced that situation, and an official period of counseling and support to help them address the moral and personal issues that ought to be involved in killing a person. When we rally around them and call them heroes for "protecting" us, we justify and encourage them to kill again. Society needs to support the right to life above the right to kill, and our police, as our first line "defenders", should be constantly trained and reinforced that killing is the last option, not the first.



11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 28, 2015 at 12:04 pm

[Portion removed.] In too many parts of the US, the police, especially since 9/11, have become armed militias, raring to rush in with drawn guns like gun slingers in the Wild West. If this is the future of police forces in the US, and it seems to be headed that way, we are better off without them. After all, we don't need more armed militias.

I will bring up again the very serious rioting in Paris and its suburbs a few years ago. Not one person was killed by either the police or the rioters in almost 3 weeks of uphevel. How many casualties would we have had in the USunder similar circumstances?


8 people like this
Posted by John Jacobs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 28, 2015 at 12:22 pm

No time or inclination to read all of the above comments, but caught the gist of the various perspectives. It's impossible to tell exactly what took place before there's a full examination of all evidence, including audio/video, and maybe even then there will be questions, just as there are in so many cases of police shootings. As a long time NAMI (Nat'l Alliance on Mental Illness) member, the one point I would like to add is that many Palo Alto police officers, as well as other officers throughout the country, are now trained in methods to use when dealing with the mentally ill in order to deescalate potentially volatile situations. I have seen these methods applied effectively with our son, making a huge difference in outcomes for which we were very grateful, and I hope such methods were attempted in this incident.


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm

When will the name of the deceased and the officers involved be made public? Will the timeline of this info and the investigation's release of info be similar to Menlo's killing last year of the burglar with the gun near Sunset Magazine?


2 people like this
Posted by Midlander
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 12:53 pm

The New York Times had an interesting article a few weeks back, discussing the differences in policing between Scotland and the US:

Web Link

It's clear that because of differences in environment and because of gun risks, we can't simply adopt other countries' methods. But at the same time, there may be elements of approach and attitude that are worth thinking about.


4 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

>> In the US, police training lasts on average 19 weeks, while in Germany, for example, police train for at least 130 weeks.

When it comes to the American citizen public ... whatever's the cheapest, he it police, health care, education, or anything else ... gotta save that money for the billionaire job creators.

Support Bernie Sanders for President.


2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2015 at 1:19 pm

I am not one who believes that when it comes to policing there must be some
kind of fair fight, or that a police officer who uses their gun lacks courage.
I don't believe policing should be a risk your life job every time you go out on
patrol. Officers should do what they can do and if they feel threatened they
should be empowered to shoot people, and the practical way to engage with
a weapon is to shoot to kill.

But, when an incident like this happens, after the fact, it must be examined and
an officer's reaction and behavior evaluated. None of us yet know what happened
in this incident. I do know a few blocks from where I was Christmas night I heard
what sounded to me like 4 or 5 automatic shots fired in rapid succession, like they
were all from the same weapon and not very far away.

I wonder whether we will get the names and the video released of this incident,
because if we do not I do not have a good feeling about any officer who was
involved in a shooting we do not know about and has any appearance of hiding.
We have seen what secrecy has done in Chicago lately and it is very negative.

I don't know if more training would have made a difference in this case, and
my interactions with the police in the last decades in Palo Alto have been very
calm and polite. I cannot say that was the case in the 70's and 80's when the
police seemed to be behave a bit cowboyish, but I have never seen anything that
indicates criminal behavior and have no reason to think there is.

I am sure whatever happened no one wants to shoot anyone, and if they did
I bet they would have jumped at any kind of training that might have helped
avoid it. Just a very sad situation that someone would have to kill or die on
Christmas.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2015 at 1:38 pm

@ Plane Speaker - Except the US spends substantially more on education per student than most european countries (behind Austria, Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland) - more than UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan. US is third in the world in per capita healthcare spending. Cheap education and cheap healthcare isn't the problem.

Like teacher's unions don't look out for the best interests of education, police unions are more about self protection and self promotion, not quality law enforcement. Maybe we should start by banning public employee unions.


Like this comment
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2015 at 1:50 pm


Per Capita Health Care Spending By Nation - Kaiser
Web Link

( pay attention Resident - since that was so far off the mark I am not going to bother to address your other claims )


2 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 28, 2015 at 1:53 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2015 at 2:03 pm

@Plane Speaker - FYI, your Kaiser link is using "purchasing power parity" - which can be helpful, but also can introduce inaccuracies. It isn't particularly helpful when comparing the US to Western Europe.

If you look at more recent World Bank data for 2013, US ranks third in per capita spending on health care in absolute dollars. Regardless of which data set you choose, you can't say that "whatever's cheapest" applies to healthcare or education.

Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 28, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Some months back, I personally witnessed the PAPD talk a man out of brandishing a pipe at the officers and to lay it down on the ground. He did so. This was in front of the Camlbridge Post Office. I believe that the PAPD have good training in diffusing a situation, and I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon at this point to blame them.


1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2015 at 2:22 pm

The biggest problem is the US is that the "per-capita" number means nothing anyway.
Take a look at Steven Brill's book "America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom
Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System"

The per capital number makes more sense, but still is not a true per-capita measure
in countries like Norway, etc.

It truly is the cheapest. There are all kinds of ways to prove and measure that, all
of which are beyond the scope of this comment and article. It is true and everyone
knows the American mental health system is a disaster, especially after Reagan
got through with it.


4 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2015 at 2:43 pm

@Plane Speaker - OK, you posted a chart showing it is by far the most expensive to support your case it is the cheapest?

The Reagan argument isn't a serious one, and does little to address the mental health crisis. Reagan, and Jerry Brown, as governors, both released large numbers of mental patients in California In the late 1960's and early 1970s. . Same thing happened in the 49 other states that they weren't Governor of. It was bad policy that was the conventional wisdom of the time in the mental health field, and for patient's rights advocates.

If you go to the ACLU page today, they are still bragging about how their lawsuits in the early 1970;s led to reduced psychiatric hospital populations. Unlike the governor of California, the ACLU did national damage to the mental health care system.

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Apples-and-Oranges
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm

People blaming Reagan for the ills of the mentally ill here in California would be well advised to read the history of mental illness medicine and public policy debates/issues in the US, as well as California—

Web Link

Web Link
Reagan just isn’t the root of all evil, as so many seem to believe.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Until all of the facts are presented, I would like to suggest that any opinions about the situation and/or the parties involved are premature.

Anyone who thinks a taser is a sure-shot method in stopping a fast-charging assailant has no idea what they are talking about. A taser can be highly effective when a target is not moving at a high rate of speed or if the target is not wearing multiple layers of thick clothing. As most readers already know, a taser has two projectiles and they must both make sustained contact with the intended target. The best chance for a positive contact and shock is between 7 and 15 feet. Closer than 7 feet and the barbs will be too close together be effective on the target. Over 15 feet and the barbs will not make the target and/or one of the barbs will go wide.

Perhaps a taser may have been the better option, but none of us know how fast and how close the assailant was in terms of attacking the police officers.


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Some new numbers on Police killings...

Web Link

Staggering numbers for what's supposed to be the best country on the planet. Where did it go wrong?

Police sirens in the background as I type this...for real.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 28, 2015 at 6:22 pm

We must be less wrong than other countries.
People are still banging on the door to get in.


4 people like this
Posted by Compassion
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

My condolences for who may be missing Mr. Raff.
My heart goes out for our local police department. I want to thank you all for what you do. Everyone I know, in your department deeply cares for people and takes pride in their work, and I want you to know that you are all in my thoughts at this time.
And to the officer who had to fire the lethal shot, I sincerely hope that you are treating yourself with kindness and compassion. That you are not second guessing, and most of all that you are not listening to all the opinions of all these "experts", who have never walked in your shoes and who never had to go through what you are going through right now. *I* know in my heart, that you did what you had to do! Please know that I am praying for you, and that you are not alone.
Love and Peace


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:08 pm

@musical

Congrats then, problem solved I guess:-)

Trump will no doubt put a stop to it so vote accordingly;-)


Like this comment
Posted by Apples-and-Oranges
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:10 pm

> Some new numbers on Police killings...

The term “police killing” is clearly pejorative, and only true in the aggregate. What’s missing is the context of why these office-involved shootings occurred, and as well as how many officers died during these engagements.

Each of these deaths represents an engagement between individuals/groups of people who were involved in what was perceived to be criminal activity by one/more officers. In virtually all cases, the officers were threatened by people/persons who were directed by one/more officers to stop what they were doing and temporarily put themselves under the legal control of the officers. News report after news report reminds us that the person/persons being investigated by the officer/officers became belligerent, hostile, seemed to attack the police, or started shooting at the police. In most instances, the officers were simply protecting themselves.

There are instances where the officers involved in a shooting might not have been in as much danger as they perceived themselves to be in at the time of the shooting. But wearing a badge is no commitment to commit suicide so that criminals can do what they want to do. Sadly, some individuals are killed unnecessarily in these engagements.
Aggregate numbers like the ones in the link above are not as helpful as a breakdown of the shootings would be. Such a breakdown would provide details about the number of justified shootings involved, the number of unjustified shootings, the number of officers tried for murder, the number of engagements where no shootings were involved, the number of engagements where Tasers were used, and so on. Unfortunately, no one seems to be collecting this sort of information at this level of detail.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:11 pm

@Mikael - In a country of 300 million people, with 14,249 murders, 84,049 forcible rapes, 325,802 robberies, 742,291 assaults, 1,729,806 burglaries, 689,527 care stolen, and 5 million thefts, the police shot and killed 975 suspects. That doesn't sound that high relative to the crime level in the country. People are mostly upset about only a handful of errors in that 975.


15 people like this
Posted by FriendOfWill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:34 pm

SADLY, I KNEW BILLY/WILL, HAVING KNOWN HIM FOR YEARS THROUGH HIS FAMILY. A REALLY GOOD, LOVING FAMILY THAT TRIED VERY, VERY HARD FOR MANY YEARS TO GET TREATMENT FOR HIM, TO LOVE HIM, TO CARE FOR HIM THROUGH HIS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. HE TOO WAS A FINE PERSON AT HEART, LIKABLE, HANDSOME AND SMART, BUT VERY TROUBLED, DEPRESSED AND MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY EXHAUSTED FROM TRYING TO DEAL WITH HIS DEMONS FOR SO MANY YEARS. IN MY HUMBLE OPINION HIS DEATH WAS INTENTIONAL, HE CALLED THE POLICE AND WITH A KNIFE IN HAND, CHARGED THEM KNOWING/WANTING THEM TO KILL HIM AND PUT HIM OUT OF HIS MISERY. HE SUCCEEDED. SARTRE WROTE THAT "WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE" WHICH CAPTURES THE REALITY OF SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS FOR THE PERSON WHO SUFFERS FROM IT. VAYA CON DIOS, BILLY; WE LOVE YOU AND WILL REMEMBER.


2 people like this
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2015 at 7:35 pm

@Mr.Recycle

Sounds totally reasonable. Right?

You might want to also convert those number to be per capita. Makes it comparable you know;-)


12 people like this
Posted by PA Voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 29, 2015 at 6:20 am

It's high time for the city council to get psychiatric facilities out of residential neighborhoods.


7 people like this
Posted by TimH
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 29, 2015 at 10:50 am

I'm sure that many folks will recall the guidelines that Palo Alto Police Officers once followed; they did not fire upon anyone unless they received gunfire from the other party. This was clearly explained to us at school by our Community officer. I only recall this as Police from "all generations" have dealt with problems such as "a man armed with a knife" and they didn't need to shoot the persons involved. Now, it seems that news from all over the United States is about police shootings. We know that police work is difficult and dangerous, necessary and highly commendable, but why lethal force in situations where only gunfire is by police?


2 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

I remember when officers were taught to disarm. Why didn't they shoot at his hand so he'd drop the knife.

Lives are not expendable.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 29, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Seriously? Shoot at a hand that is waving a knife and is part of an assailant who is sprinting towards you with the intent of stabbing you? And you are also moving backwards to keep your distance. And oh yeah, it was at night....

Shoot the hand....You've been watching too much TV.

Read the latest release. There is audio and video recordings plus three eye witnesses.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Mikael
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 30, 2015 at 5:42 pm

@Crescent Park Dad

19 seconds, several commands and 3 - 4 shots fired. Sounds confrontational to me, it doesn't add up. Police also said it was a regular table knife...the type you usually cut prepared, soft, food with. Was he a threat to anyone else but himself when he was jumping around? Doesn't sound like it from reading the latest report. Have they released the audio and video?


2 people like this
Posted by Joe Schmoe
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by a neighbor
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 2, 2016 at 3:22 pm

One man with a knife and mental problems against two officers who fired shots and others who did not. How many officers where there? Why not a single shot to the the leg to disable him, or a tazer? What is with "deadly force"in situations such as this? Rediculous.


Like this comment
Posted by ced1106
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 4, 2016 at 3:34 pm

> Why didn't they shoot at his hand so he'd drop the knife.

Because this is real life and not teevee.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr Ed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2016 at 9:36 am

I see now this has been swept under the carpert, it's what you call "operation coverup". Hey Palo Alto, really a great safe place to bring up a family!


Like this comment
Posted by an insider
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:18 am

[Post removed due to unverifiable and potentially defamatory statements. Please provide Palo Alto Online with information that would substantiate your comments.]


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