Video released in fatal Christmas shooting in Palo Alto

District Attorney clears Palo Alto police in death of 31-year-old man

Officers who fatally shot a mentally ill man on a Palo Alto street on Christmas Day were justified when they discharged their weapons, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has determined.

The District Attorney released a 31-page report Tuesday on the death of William Raff along with video of the 19-second confrontation, taken by four cameras mounted on Palo Alto police cruisers.

Raff, 31, was shot Christmas night four times as he charged at officers with a knife, video from police cameras show. Raff, who recently moved into the transitional mental-health group home La Selva House, had called 911 to report that someone named "Andre Seal" was threatening to harm people. When three officers arrived at the house, at 652 Forest Ave., Raff exited the home and charged police with a knife in his hand.

Video shows that officers told Raff a number of times to drop the knife, which turned out to be a table knife with a rounded tip. Raff can be seen dancing around in the middle of the darkened street in a boxer's stance before bellowing unintelligibly and charging at officers, who had backed away from him and stood by one officer's car. Officer Khalil Tannous fired a Taser at Raff, but it was not effective. Only one of its prongs struck him in the leg. Officers Nicolas Enberg and Zachary Wicht opened fire as Raff continued to run toward them, and he collapsed to the ground a few feet from Enberg.

"The totality of the evidence leads only to the conclusion that William Raff was intent on dying at the hands of police officers on Dec. 25, 2015," prosecutor Charles Gillingham wrote in the report, which was based on an investigation by the Palo Alto Police Department. "William Raff called 911 that night to create a fake emergency and draw an armed response from the police. Raff then committed suicide by attacking the officers, who shot him in self-defense."

The District Attorney's Office said that it has determined that the officers had fired upon Raff after reasonably believing that they would be harmed or killed or that one of them was in imminent danger. The officers had retreated back 50 feet from Raff after he came running from the east side of the house in the dark. Raff was holding the knife in a "pistol grip" as if he was going to stab down at someone prior to running directly at Enberg.

The review found that Raff had deliberately lured the officers to the home with the intention of having them kill him. He had concocted a story that someone at the home was threatening to harm people, which turned out not to be true. The officers believed there was someone at the house who might have been a threat, and they did not know that the person before them with the knife was the person who had called dispatchers.

The whole incident happened in less than eight minutes, from when Raff called 911 to his collapse on Forest Avenue. After the 911 call, a dispatcher called La Selva House and talked to staff, and the staff member said he did not think that Raff was a danger.

But officers did not know of the dispatcher's discussion with the staff member, Kevin McKellar, because of the simultaneous arrival of police while the dispatcher was talking to McKellar, according to the report. The only information officers had received right away is that no one "by that name" of Andre Seal lived at the residence.

The officers commanded Raff several times to put down the knife. But Raff did not comply. He had acted so swiftly and with such surprise that the officers did not have time for a plan of action or further retreat, the report states. During the encounter, Wicht called for a back-up weapon that fires large rubber projectiles and is less lethal, but within moments, Raff was already charging at Enberg.

Enberg was wearing bullet-protective body armor, but it was penetrable by a blade. Enberg told police that he had feared that Raff would stab him in the neck or upper abdomen; Wicht said that Raff had locked eyes with Enberg just before charging at him with the knife in his right hand.

One witness, Joseph Carter, a La Selva House employee, said that when he saw police officers, he had raised his hands and yelled, "Staff, I'm the staff. He has a butter knife, it is a butter knife," he said during a police interview.

Tannous said he heard someone yelling, but he could not make out what was said. He also did not know if that other person was the individual Raff had referred to in the 911 call, he said.

The DA's office did not find that Raff's carrying of a mere table knife had adequate bearing on the officers' actions.

"The fact that the knife used by Raff was a dinnerware knife does not make the situation less threatening for the officers, or their actions less justified. The knife used could be used to inflict a fatal wound or serious injury on the officers whose faces and necks were exposed and whose vests were not designed to protect from knife strikes," the DA's review noted. "None of the officers heard a staff member stating that the knife was a 'butter knife' and if they had, they would not have had the time or ability to assess the credibility of that statement. What the officers saw was a man yelling and charging at them with a knife in his hand, in an attack."

"The officers could not have known and did not know, that William Raff had a history of suicide attempts, the most recent being approximately three weeks earlier," the DA's office stated.

California law permits any person to use deadly force where there is a reasonable need to protect oneself, or another, from an apparent, imminent threat of death or great bodily injury, the DA's office noted.

"Furthermore, it specifically permits police officers to use deadly force when arresting a person who has committed or is committing a violent felony (such as assault in a police officer with a deadly weapon) and the officer has probable cause to believe the person poses a threat of future or imminent death or great bodily injury, either to the officer or to others, Courts do not require officers to wait until they are physically attacked before they are entitled to take action," Gillingham wrote.

How the investigation was conducted

The DA's investigation was based on reports by the Palo Alto Police Department, which included documented interviews with civilian witnesses and officers, audio recordings of the interviews, audio and video of the incident and crime scene details. The review was conducted according to the 2012 "Officer-Involved Guidelines" adopted by the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs' Association, according to the DA's office.

The Police Chiefs' Association guidelines state that the role of the district attorney is to "monitor the police investigation" and "when deemed necessary, perform an independent investigation, separate from that of the police investigation."

Asked why the DA's office determined it would not do a separate investigation from that of the Palo Alto police, Deputy District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro said Tuesday that in this case all of the video and audio evidence indicated that officers had acted lawfully. The DA's office was initially present in the first days after the shooting, having sent a deputy district attorney and a DA investigator to monitor the police investigation. They sat in on interviews and ensured that the right steps were being taken to record all of them so that police would not rely only on paper records, he said.

These procedures are the regular practice for the Santa Clara County DA's office. He could not recall an incident that required an independent investigation outside of that of police because of the initial monitoring of police evidence practices, which takes place in each of these cases, he said.

In addition, Palo Alto Police Department policy states that its own investigative unit will look into the department's officer-involved shootings.

A mind unraveling

The picture painted of Raff and the incidents that led to his death show a man who, for at least the previous year, had often been in a dire mental-health crisis. Raff had made two prior attempts to kill himself before the Dec. 25 incident, and he had voiced that he had wanted to harm himself on other occasions. He was hospitalized for his mental condition at least three times, including on Sept. 13 and Oct. 24, 2014, and on Dec. 6, 2015.

Diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, he had delusions and seizures brought on by attempts to put himself into psychosis, according to the DA's report. He was twice put on a psychiatric hold and hospitalized by Santa Cruz law enforcement agencies and once by police in Westminster, California. In that incident, he believed that his mother was possessed and that he needed to get away from her. He took officers who tried to stop his vehicle on a 3.8-mile chase and deliberately crashed his truck into a wall, according to excerpts form the Westminster police report.

Garold Raff told police that his son had spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with him, and he had become concerned for his son's mental state. William Raff had been placed at La Selva House after coming out of a locked psychiatric facility in Fremont. The elder Raff believed that his son was deteriorating and that La Selva was not an appropriate place for him. He should have been in a locked facility, he told police.

On Christmas, Garold Raff had taken his son shopping at a market. William Raff was so agitated that the father called La Selva staff and said he wanted to talk to the CEO to warn that William was not right and that he was significantly agitated and to watch his medication. Raff had recently been given more medication because he had a seizure on Dec. 22. Garold Raff felt that the excess medication he was given might be making him worse, he told police.

Staff at La Selva also told police that Raff was "not totally there" when he arrived to live at La Selva on Dec. 21. Raff was "ramping up" in the intervening days before the 911 call. Raff was flushed red and was staring into space. He told McKellar that he was trying to keep his heart beating. Later, he seemed better. But after McKellar heard Raff calling police, he told Raff that he was safe. McKellar told him that he would have to explain himself for "prank calling the cops." At that time, the phone rang and McKellar told the inquiring police dispatcher that he had a client who was sick and experiencing paranoia and delusions. He did not believe that Raff was a danger.

Another staff member, Joseph Carter, said that Raff had been tapping his chest earlier that day for two to three hours. He and McKellar were concerned that he might try to put himself into "self-psychosis" again as he had a couple of days earlier.

Raff improved after a walk and while music was played at the house, even dancing. But after 9 p.m. while the police dispatcher was calling McKellar, Carter said he saw Raff go into the kitchen and grab a knife out of the drawer.

He asked Raff what he was doing. Raff replied, "I'm outta here."

Raff went out the back door and proceeded to the east side of the residence. Carter followed him outside to try to deescalate the situation.

"William, William stop! William, let's talk! Make a good decision," Carter said he called out to Raff. But Raff ignored him.

The videos from the police cruisers show the officers disappearing into the dark as they approached the home.

"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" an officer called out as Raff ran out from the east side of the house with a silver object in his hand.

By the time Carter got to the front of the house, about 25 feet behind Raff, he could see that Raff was already in the street. The police had retreated to near their cars, putting a 40- to 50-foot distance between themselves and Raff.

Carter said he raised his hands, and that's when he yelled that he was staff and that Raff was holding a "butter knife."

Raff screamed and did "the Incredible Hulk with the knife, 'rwaah,' and just started beat-feeting toward the cops."

The video shows Raff running toward Enberg. Shots can be heard before he reaches the officer. He appears to be at least 10 feet or more away. But he keeps running. When he falls to the ground, he is close enough that Enberg must turn to the left to keep from being struck by his body.

Police conducting administrative investigation

The Palo Alto Police Department said it is deferring all questions related to the content or details of the DA's findings to the DA's office. The police department had no additional information available for release, but they did express condolences to Raff's family.

"We have tremendous sympathy for the Raff family and William's friends and loved ones. We are also mindful of the lasting effect this incident has had on our personnel, the independent witnesses who observed what occurred, and the staff at the transitional residential program at which Mr. Raff was a resident," the department said in a written statement.

The administrative investigation into the shooting is continuing, however, now that the District Attorney's Office has completed their criminal investigation, the department noted. The administrative investigation will include a review of policies, training, tactics and equipment.

"At the conclusion of the administrative investigation, we will submit it to our Independent Police Auditor for review. They will also receive all audio and video recordings associated with the case. The Independent Police Auditor will make public comments at the appropriate time about the incident, the response of our personnel, and the administrative investigation itself," department officials wrote.

Raff's family could not immediately be reached for comment. His mother, Tina Cremer, filed a wrongful-death claim against the City of Palo Alto in late March. Her attorney, Michael Haddad, said that the city rejected the claim on May 2. He plans to file a lawsuit in the near future.

"The DA's job is not to determine if the shooting is lawful; it's to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate. It doesn't cover civil claims," Haddad said. "What this boils down to is that the officers at the scene knew that the home was housed by people with mental illness."

When a "thin man acting erratically came out of the house, the officers should have known that he was mentally ill," he said. Then a staff member came out waving his arms and yelling that "it's just a butter knife," he added.

"The officer makes no attempt to take cover or move out of the way. He just stands there and shoots this poor guy with a mental illness. He wasn't wanted for any crime. The most logical inference is that he is mentally ill. Someone who's mentally ill is not a criminal. The shooting was unnecessary," Haddad said.

• Watch the video here (Warning: the footage is graphic)

Related article:

Claim against Palo Alto filed in police shooting

Police shooting was 'unjust' parents say


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17 people like this
Posted by not sold after video
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 24, 2016 at 7:05 pm

After watching the video, I see 2 officers that hold their ground and make no attempt to side step the man rushing them with a dinner knife. They don't step sideways behind the car that was right next to them. They don't try to evade him at all. They just shoot him.

56 people like this
Posted by Local joe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 24, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Absolutely perfect handling of the situation. They did everything they could to resolve the situation, short of getting in their cars and returning to their Christmas dinner. At the time, they believed others were in danger and they were willing to put themselves in harms at to protect others. We should be grateful we have such high caliber officers in our city.

64 people like this
Posted by Joe Bloe
a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Good for he officers!

They should not have been punished for doing their jobs in a professional manner.

13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2016 at 5:59 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Let's face it, at this point in time, a cop anywhere in the USA can walk up to a civilian, shoot him in the face and get cleared by the DA office of all wrong doings. That is why, even after all the infamous police killings of the last few years, cops keep killing civilians as if nothig has changed, knowing full well they are fully protected. As a law abiding citizen who never broke the law and hates crime and criminals, I must admit that I am now much more concerned about police violence than the danger posed by criminals.

39 people like this
Posted by Mario
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 25, 2016 at 6:15 am

mauricio. Your comment is ridiculous. Police officers are not just going out and shooting law abiding citizens. All these shootings you hear about in the news are shootings of criminals. It angers me when people make it seem like the cops are just randomly shooting people. I live in East Palo Alto, Hispanic and I am not afraid of the police because i am not a criminal. Police have a Job to protect us and themselves and get home to their families every night. I would rather the criminal get shot than the Police or an innocent by stander.

42 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2016 at 8:32 am

I happy to see that after a careful review, the DA made the appropriate decision. Watching the video, I am amazed at the calm and professionalism the officers displayed during an extremely stressful event, during which a man clearly charged them and tried to kill them. My condolences to the deceased man's family. Also thank you officers for putting yourselves in harms way anytime we the public need help, and I hope you can heal from this event. An unfortunate event for all involved but the police acted completely reasonably and appropriately.

23 people like this
Posted by No Winners
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2016 at 8:52 am

No winners hear, but happy to hear the DA took a careful review and came up with what appears to be the correct decision.

As is standard, people will associate this with other acts of police violence that were not justified. But looking at the actual facts and considering the position the police were in that night, their use of force seems appropriate.

For those that judge these police, I believe PAPD is hiring. Go sign up, see how you would handle yourself in their shoes.

9 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 25, 2016 at 11:22 am

Being mentally ill, drunk, or on drugs doesn't mean they won't harm someone. Remember back a few years ago near downtown when a mentally ill man ran out of a house and gave a karate chop to the back of the neck of a man who happened to be walking by, killing him?

Violent crime is committed by people making very poor decisions for many different reasons.

I can't imagine anyone being charged like that, thinking oh I don't think he will harm anyone. Maybe the officers could have been carrying better tools but failing to stop him with a taser left little choice what could be done next.

15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 11:31 am

My condolences to Raff's family and to the officer who has to live with Raff committing suicide by cop. Thank you to the DA and PA Police for releasing this video. It sheds a lot of light of this situation. To me this looks pretty cut and dry case of self defense given the circumstances. The police were not acting aggressively and used force only at the last moment when they deemed an officer life in danger. How come no mentions the responsibility of the staff of the La Selva House, who potentially could have helped prevent this situation? I think the lawsuit is unwarranted.

Maurico, while you may have been making a general comment about officers walking up to someone and shooting them in the face it is completely out of context relative to this video and unfair to the Palo Alto Police. Did you actually watch the video and see the man yelling and charging directly at the officer for at least 30 feet brandishing a knife before getting shot? The officer had actually backed up prior to this to put more distance between himself and the aggressor.

Lastly, lets get bodycams on all the PA officers that are on all the time. They really gives a much clearer picture of what happened and are an all around win.

5 people like this
Posted by Another police shooting spree
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

What we have here is another police shooting spree, another display of bravado instead of calm professionalism. Three officers with Tasers and guns and one mentally ill man with a butter knife? And there was no possible response other than a mis-fired Taser and four bullets? Clearly the police need better training in the use of Tasers and in understanding mental illness.

When I view the video I see no attempt by the officers to get out of Raff's way. So of course Raff is "close" to the shooter when he collapses. Is there a machismo at work in US police officers' behavior, an arrogant attitude that says "I'm not stepping aside for anyone"? Police in the UK and elsewhere in the world have specific training in how to stop a knife-wielding person - without touching a gun. Are we too conceited to learn from other nations or just too stupid to know we need to?

Finally, the police investigating themselves is absurd, despite the empty words about DA monitoring. Not a single independent mental-health expert was interviewed for the investigation. No mention was made of the training, or lack thereof, in Crisis Intervention. Had any of the officers involved taken this training? Does the PA Police Department require it? Why are these crucial points not covered? 1 in 4 people killed in officer-involved shootings in the US has a serious mental illness. Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is a 40-hour program widely available to the police and endorsed by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). No responsible police department should ignore these realities and resources. There appears to be a willful ignorance on the part of the police and the DA. If they can pretend their training was not at fault they can wash their hands of guilt and carry on as before.
[Portion removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2016 at 12:26 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I did watch the video and was absolutely no reason to shoot this mentally ill man. One officer could have diverted him and another tase him, which every cop tandem in any country in Western Europe would have done. This guy would have been apprehended in the UK, Holland, France, Scandinavia and numerous other civilized countries. It was another police killing, entirely avoidable, surprisingly excused by another DA office. I forwarded video this morning to an old college friend who is a senior law enforcement officer in Germany, and he he had the same opinion: absolutely avoidable and unnecessary and clumsy killing.

20 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm

When I was in college, a mentally ill man broke into the apartment I shared with two roommates. He entered the room where I was sleeping, because it was a small room, so I was alone. The other girls shared a larger room.

He held a knife to my neck, and tried to rape me. Unable to complete the act, he became frustrated and that was when I fought him off and screamed for help. He escaped, but not before cutting my throat. Fortunately, the knife was somewhat dull, and because of that I did not bleed to death--which was his intent.

I still bear the scar on my neck-- it is a constant reminder that a mentally ill person IS indeed capable of murder.

How do I know he was mentally ill? He was an escapee from a home for mentally ill out-patients, similar to a halfway house. The police had been looking for him for three days previously, because he had previously been a danger to himself and others.

2 people like this
Posted by Izzy
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2016 at 1:40 pm

He was in a known home for the mentally unstable, and he was carrying a BUTTER knife. And the officers killed him for his "knife". Puleeze.....

12 people like this
Posted by Totally Justfied
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 25, 2016 at 2:17 pm

I've seen videos of police doing really bad things and I've seen videos of cops acting with reasonable use of deadly force. This video was the latter.
Each case is different. Though very sad for all involved, I'm not mad about this one at all.

6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2016 at 2:26 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The fact is, there are at least 50 modern countries in which the police would have managed to disarm him without anybody getting seriously injured(or injured at all), and without any loss of life. US police is generally trigger happy, incompetent and raring to Rambo, among other issues they have. Every police officer in Europe would just laugh at the notion that they couldn't have tased while one officer distracted him and absolutely had to shoot to deatha mentally ill person wielding a butter knife.

12 people like this
Posted by Uh huh.
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 25, 2016 at 2:41 pm

Again, every case is different, every situation different. This one looked clean, regardless of the ideologues.

11 people like this
Posted by I guess they are dangerous
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm

I just Googled "killed with a butter knife"
Damn, those things can be really dangerous in the wrong hands of someone intent on harming someone.

7 people like this
Posted by stats
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm

"1 in 4 people killed in officer-involved shootings in the US has a serious mental illness."

1 of every 4 people in the US has a form of mental illness. So this isnt police shooting mentally ill people at a higher rate.

Plus a threat is a threat, no less dangerous if it comes from a mentally ill person.

13 people like this
Posted by Mvresident2003
a resident of Mountain View
on May 25, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Mvresident2003 is a registered user.

pretty damn easy to sit behind a computer screen and judge a situation when in fact you have absolutely no idea of what led up to the event. I am SO SICK of people blaming our police officers, those who keep us safe, for CRIMINALS putting themselves in situations that require extreme measures. Or in this case, a mentally ill person who had every intent to harm.

More frightening is the thought that those who push this agenda might have a long-term effect on our police departments and the manner in which they're able to protect us. I hope like hell that they don't listen and don't pull back from making these tough decisions and keeping us all safe.

Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Barron
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2016 at 8:56 pm

The cops know that it is a knife and not a gun. So why could they not shoot at his legs or other part of the body. American cops are way too trigger happy.

7 people like this
Posted by certainly
a resident of Community Center
on May 25, 2016 at 9:45 pm

"Hopefully for you, you won't be on the wrong end of a gun barrel of a cop who was pissed off at you for some reason or had a bad hair day."

I am certain I have nothing to worry about. I wont be charging any police officers with a knife thats for sure. And if you viewed that video and thought the police shot him because of a bad hair day, you are completely clueless on this subject.

8 people like this
Posted by Bonez
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2016 at 10:15 pm

For all of the police officers that read this and especially Ofcs. Enberg and Wicht: THANK YOU for your service to our community. The community values you and thanks you for your service.

For all of the arm-chair quarterbacks and sit-at-home-bravados. [Portion removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by Amadeo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Mauricio, thank you for your thoughtful comments... "I did watch the video and was absolutely no reason to shoot this mentally ill man." Are you sure you clicked on the correct link? Did you happen to see the part where he sprints at police officers, who had already retreated, holding a knife over his head? If you missed that part, it's about 15 seconds into the video.

"One officer could have diverted him and another tase him" I see. Well when you create this magical force field the cops can use to "divert" people you let me know, I'll fund your company, because every police department in the world will be buying this product.

[Portion removed.]

"I forwarded video this morning to an old college friend who is a senior law enforcement officer in Germany, and he he had the same opinion: absolutely avoidable and unnecessary and clumsy killing." Well thank you for that completely unverifiable, likely fictitious statement. I also forwarded the video to my college friend, who is a chief senior law enforcement officer in the UK, and he said the officers acted properly and did their job.

[Portion removed.] We need guardians in society who we can call upon when things go bad. These people are called police. They will respond to a problem anytime when you call - 24/7/365. Sometimes there are sad outcomes to bad situations, such as in this one, where someone died. But having read the entire 31-page DA report, I find one thing certain - if the deceased had not committed suicide by cop, he would have ended up [portion removed] somewhere else trying to take his own life. [Portion removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 26, 2016 at 6:46 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Yet in real life situations, police in other countries often manage to handle similar situation without serious injuries and loss of life to anyone. [Portion removed.]

10 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Addison School
on May 26, 2016 at 8:06 am


Your comparisons are off base here and don't really make sense. You are correct that gun culture is different elswhere. But you can hardly blame the police for the existence of the 2nd Ammendment. And you think we live in a police state? Haha! You should visit the country I was born in, maybe then you'd understand how good we have it here.

Thank you to the police, I appreciate you! Sorry to the mentally ill man's family.

The real issue here is that care for the mentally ill has huge gaps. People fall through the cracks and end up in places that are not suited to properly treat them, like La Selva. I want to ask the obvious question here, of why was a highly suicidal man, who had just tried to commit suicide a few weeks earlier by stabbing himself in the neck, at La Selva?? The DA report points out La Selva is an "open facility," which I understand to mean patients/residents can come and go as they see fit? How is this possible? Shouldn't this man have been on lockdown and highly supervised? Why did staff allow him to arm himself and walk out of the building?? I am thankful he didn't try to stab some mother walking her children down the street. Another question, why does a highly suicidal man in a mental health facility have access to ANY kind of knives????? Didn't this man just stab himself repeatedly in the neck a few weeks ago??? Unbelievable. And to blame the police for this situation is just so absurd. There were so many failures by the mental health system along the way, that by the time he was armed and charging the police, it was way too late. The cops are not to blame, La Selva and the rest of the broken mental health system are to blame. Let's stop being divisive and blaming the cops, and find ways to fix the real problem - mental health treatment.

8 people like this
Posted by realreal
a resident of Community Center
on May 26, 2016 at 10:09 am

[Portion removed.] Do you not think that police in the US have ever subdued a man with a knife, or even a gun, without killing that person? I am willing to bet that happens all the time, you just don't hear about it. The media doesn't like to report on those ones, doesn't sell papers or get clicks.

[Portion removed.] Continuous evaluation of procedures and continuing the fight to better deal with mental illness is needed by all, but lets apply that appropriately, in a situation other than this tragedy.

2 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 27, 2016 at 10:13 am

If you have never been in a "ride-a-long" with the police department I highly suggest you do it. You may begin to understand what a Police officers job is like and how almost every person they encounter wants to kill them.

9 people like this
Posted by You Can't Handle the Truth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2016 at 10:28 am


Your statements about other country's police are false. I have travelled all over the world and and my impression is the police are either impotent technocrats that hand out tickets while organized crime or terrorists rule the streets or tools of the state intent on suppressing or shaking down the populace.

We are very fortunate to have a professional police force that consistently protects its citizenry and all the unique protections afforded by the bill of rights. Your socialist dreamlands in Western Europe don't have those constitutional protections so it is no wonder you are confused by them.

The sad reality is that some mentally ill people are uncontrollably violent and throughout human history the strong have preyed upon the weak. If you think it is so easy to disarm someone with lethal intent I would like to see you do it. [Portion removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

Just a reminder that "shooting at the legs" is not taught by any law enforcement agency nor in handgun safety classes in the US because its not effective. First, it has a low likelihood of incapacitating the attacker. It's also much harder to hit the target than shooting center of mass (upper body) and third, you can still cause the person to bleed out quickly if they hit the femal artery in the leg. Also, the officer is more likely to miss sending a bullet ricocheting off the ground potentially injuring or killing an innocent bystander. If you have an issue with it then its with the trainers, not the officers acting according to training.

In England where officers do not carry guns, they have much less shootings but in France where officers carry guns, the shooting rate is similar to the US. I would like to see PA Police use this as an impetus to get more training of non-lethal techniques for non-compliant suspects. However, Maurico's recommendation that the officer go "hands-on" still means he could have been blinded or killed if the the assailant had put the butter knife through his eye for example. Also, the only case where this might have been an acceptable risk if the officer clearly knew it was a butter knife, which seems unlikely given it was dark and the victim started at quite a distance. This was not a case of police aggression but rather police self defense.

I want to let the officer know we appreciate your service and are sorry some armchair quarterbacks have been watching too many movies and don't understand what its like to be surprised and operate effectively in a highly dynamic situation.

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