Off-duty San Jose officer being called hero for stopping robbery

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Sgt. Fredrick Kotto has been with the San Jose Police Department for 17 years. He says he wasn't planning to spring into action the way he did. His fiancée calls him nothing short of amazing. Kotto says it's just in his blood to protect his fellow citizens.

"I hear the woman scream 'He's got my purse! He's got my purse! Help me! Help me!' and other passengers are trying to intervene, but this person's defeating all their measures, someone even whipped out a Taser," Kotto said.

Kotto was expecting a quiet Monday morning on BART; he was simply on his way into San Francisco with his fiancée to get their marriage license until a woman was being robbed on their car as they approached the West Oakland station.

"We both turn and look and see a sort, of scuffle going on and she says 'Don't get involved, don't get involved,'" Kotto said.

"Guilty; I asked him not to get involved if they have it under control and once he realized it was not under control, he just jumped into action," Kotto's fiancée Stanka Vuckovic said.

"I came closer, I showed my gun and my badge, and I said, 'Listen, I'm a police officer, you need to get on the ground,' and I grabbed their arm," Kotto said.

The incident sounds like it could be right out of a Hollywood action film and it very well could be -- Kotto's father is actor Yaphet Kotto, of Alien and Midnight Run fame.

"I threw them down and put them in a control hold," Kotto said.

Kotto held the would-be robber until the West Oakland stop, where BART police took 31-year-old Oakland resident Jennifer Davis into custody.

Davis is being charged with one count of robbery and her probation was revoked.

The 48-year-old victim was unharmed and left with her purse.

"The woman, and I hope she sees this, because she came to me and thanked me so sincerely, it was really, really nice to be thanked that way and the train applauded for us," Kotto said. "It was really nice."

Kotto was asked to stay to give a witness report but he had somewhere important to be.

"We had a pre-paid appointment to get our marriage certificate and I couldn't miss it," he said.

Kotto left his contact information with the other officers and he and his bride-to-be still made it to their appointment on time with four minutes to spare.

The 47-year-old Kotto says the numerous injuries sustained during his years with the department will force him into an early retirement later this year. But a retirement date hasn't been set just yet -- marriage comes first, in March.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.