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Sunnyvale officer cleared of wrongdoing in fatal shooting

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The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has determined that a Sunnyvale public safety officer acted lawfully when he shot and killed a 25-year-old stabbing suspect in October 2017, prosecutors said Tuesday. Jesus Contreras Jr. barricaded himself inside his ex-girlfriend’s home after stabbing her in the stomach on the afternoon of Oct. 31, 2017. The woman told police he said he would “cut her to pieces” when they arrived and found her near an apartment on Weddell Drive.

Contreras Jr. was on parole, his ex-girlfriend told public safety officers, and did not want to go back to jail, even if it meant “going out dead.”

After multiple attempts to have him surrender, officers sent in a police dog. Contreras Jr. fatally stabbed the dog multiple times and the dog’s handling officer ran into the home to rescue it.

Several other officers followed, and Contreras Jr. eventually threw a large knife at Lt. Emmett Larkin and struck him on the arm. Larkin fired his weapon at Contreras Jr. twice and shot him once fatally, according to the district attorney’s office.

The shooting was captured on body-camera footage and officers later found additional weapons on Contreras’ person. A toxicology report also revealed the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine and THC. The 32-page report released by the district attorney’s office includes graphic photos of the bathroom where Contreras Jr. was barricaded and shot, body-worn camera footage and interviews with each officer at the scene.

“Lt. Larkin had a genuine and reasonable fear for the safety of himself and other deputies when he fired his weapon at Mr. Contreras,” the report concludes. “His conduct is therefore justifiable in the defense of others and self, and no criminal liability attaches to him.”

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