From: San Francisco Chronicle
By Kale Williams 4/9/15
Sunnyvale police officials on Thursday identified an officer who shot and killed a man after he allegedly robbed a liquor store.
Officer Benjamin Kroutil, a 13-year veteran of law enforcement, was the first on the scene after a robbery was reported at Grewalz Liquors at 1125 Tasman Dr. around 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, according to Capt. Jeff Hunter, a police spokesman.
Kroutil found the robbery suspect in an alley behind the shopping complex, which houses restaurants, a nail salon and a health spa in addition to the liquor store.
According to Hunter, the suspect was armed with a knife and refused commands to drop it. When the suspect began to advance on Kroutil, the officer fired his weapon “in fear for his safety,” Hunter said in a statement.
The suspect, who has not been identified, was wounded and later died in a hospital.
Mike Han, who owns a Mongolian barbecue restaurant in the complex, said his employees were setting up for the day when they heard “a couple” gunshots behind the business.
The Chronicle has been unable to locate any witnesses to the shooting.
Hunter said investigators had obtained video of the incident captured by a bystander and would be passing it along to the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, which is investigating the shooting. That video, which was being treated as evidence, will not be released publicly, Hunter said.
Kroutil’s attorney, Zachery Lopes, said he expects his client will be cleared of wrongdoing.
“We don’t anticipate any charges against Ben,” he said. “The suspect was armed with a deadly weapon and ignored multiple commands to drop it. He didn’t have any choice.”
According to court records, Kroutil, while working for the Modesto Police Department, was named in a 2012 lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.
A woman alleged that Kroutil and four other officers entered her home without a warrant, and refused to leave, after a tow truck driver got into a dispute with her while trying to repossess her car.
According to the suit, the officers demanded the keys to the vehicle and threatened the woman and her two daughters with arrest before handcuffing her and putting her into the back of a police car.
The woman was released, but was soon hospitalized for a severe anxiety attack caused by the incident, and later suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress, the suit stated.
The city of Modesto settled the suit out of court, without admitting any fault, for $120,000.