The fatal shooting of an armed robber by a Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety officer four years ago has been deemed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office to be lawful.
Joseph Weber, 28, died after being shot by Officer Benjamin Kroutil after the officer responded shortly after 11 a.m. to a report of an armed robbery at Grewalz Liquor & Groceries at 1125 Tasman Drive in Sunnyvale.
According to a 39-page report released Tuesday about the shooting, Kroutil found Weber after he had waved a knife while stealing cigarettes from the store.
As Weber approached Kroutil with a knife in his left hand, the officer told him to stop, drop the knife and put his hands in the air, but Weber did not obey and continued walking toward him, according to the report. Kroutil fired five shots, with multiple rounds hitting Weber. He was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and succumbed to his injuries there.
The report determined that seeing Weber move toward him with the knife, Kroutil “reasonably believed he did not have any other option but to use his weapon.”
Weber had previous convictions, including for trying to solicit someone to kill his mother, and family members and his girlfriend said he had prior mental health issues and had been living in a tent in the area in the time leading up to the shooting.
Kroutil, who had 14 years of experience as a police officer at the time of the shooting and had been with the Sunnyvale department for about a year, was one of five Modesto police officers named in a federal lawsuit filed in 2012 by a woman alleging that the officers entered her home without a warrant, with some drawing their guns.
The city of Modesto eventually settled the case out of court the following year.