Investigation finds Palo Alto officer justified in fatal shooting of suicidal man wielding kitchen knife

EMBED </>More News Videos

The Santa Clara County District Attorney released a video Tuesday showing Palo Alto police officers opening fire on a mentally ill man. Investigators now say the shooting was justified because the man came at them with a weapon. (KGO-TV)

New details have been released on a Christmas Day shooting in Palo Alto.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney released a video Tuesday showing Palo Alto police officers opening fire on a mentally ill man. Investigators now say the shooting was justified because the man came at them with a weapon.

It took 19 seconds before Palo Alto police shot William Raff on Christmas night.

The 31-year-old, who suffered from schizophrenia, called police from his group home claiming a violent person was on the loose.

When police arrived, they found Raff in the street, waiving a dinner knife. Facility staffers told police it was a butter knife.

"Just because someone is holding something that looks like a knife but when they know it's just a butter knife, it's not a situation where they get to kill a person every time," said attorney Michael Haddad.

The district attorney's report says 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.

Investigators concluded Raff wanted to die at the hands of police.

Social justice advocates wonder if more could have been done to de-escalate things. Those in the neighborhood say they are just glad it's over.

"This person had a disability so they had to have a different response from the onset," said Liz Gonzalez of Silicon Valley De-Bug.

"It hasn't made me feel any less safe or concerned," said Arne Stokstad, a resident.

Next month, Raff's mother will file a civil suit against the officers.
Related Topics:
newscrimepolice-involved shootingofficer involved shootingsuicidemental healthPalo Alto
(Copyright ©2017 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments