Investigators have cleared a deputy who shot and killed an elderly man in 2016 during a welfare check at his Saratoga home of any criminal wrongdoing, according to a statement issued by the Santa Clara County District Attorney Tuesday.
Eugene Craig’s family called law enforcement to the scene of the shooting at his residence in the 12000 block of Titus Avenue on Sept. 12, 2016, and they arrived just before 8 p.m.
Craig, 87, and his wife did not respond to repeated knocks on the front door or other entrances to the home.
A neighbor informed the deputies that Craig had recently made a troubling remark about “bashing” his wife’s head in, and there were concerns that she may have been harmed.
They also learned that Craig had a military background and multiple firearms in his possession. Based on this information, they felt it was necessary to make contact with the couple as quickly as possible and decided to force their way into the home around 8:45 p.m.
After announcing themselves repeatedly but failing to breach the front door, which was captured on video using a police vehicle’s dash-cam, they moved over to the garage side door and kicked it in.
After forcing open the second door, from the garage to the home’s interior, they were confronted by Craig – who was armed with a .38-caliber handgun. One of the deputies initially thought Craig may have been confused, and that he may have been under the impression that the deputies in his home were burglars there for criminal purposes.
He did not comply with repeated orders to drop the weapon, and allegedly even raised it in their direction, prompting Sgt. Douglas Ulrich to fire four shots – fatally striking Craig.
He suffered a two gunshot wounds to the pelvis and two gunshot wounds to the chest. All four injuries included an entry and exit wound, indicating that each bullet passed all the way through Craig’s body.
Craig also suffered a fifth gunshot wound, a grazing wound to the chest. Officials with the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office were not immediately available to clarify how Craig suffered five gunshot wounds from four bullets.
Investigators determined that Ulrich “genuinely believed” Craig posed an “imminent threat of death or great bodily injury,” and that officers are legally authorized to use lethal force when faced with imminent danger.
Ulrich has worked with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department for 15 years. He’s been assigned to the Court Service Division, the Field Training Program and the West Valley Patrol Division.
He was promoted to sergeant in 2011.