SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) — Three Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety officers who shot and killed a knife-wielding man during a SWAT standoff last summer were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The man, identified as 68-year-old Michael Nehez, had called 911 at 7:53 a.m. on Aug. 8 and told a dispatcher that he had killed his wife and was suicidal, saying “I wanna end it all… it’s got to end sooner or later,” according to a 38-page report by the Deputy District Attorney Matthew Braker.
Nehez told the dispatcher that he had strangled his wife, 55-year-old Marlene Nehez, in the bedroom of their home at 678 San Pedro Ave. days before calling.
Officers arrived anticipating that Nehez may attempt to start a violent confrontation with police and established a perimeter around the home. They attempted to contact Nehez via phone and amplified announcements, according to Braker.
But after about an hour with no contact, the department’s SWAT team was called in to attempt a forced entry into the home.
Officers parked an armored vehicle in front of the home’s front door and turned off gas to the residence. They rammed open the door and one officer used his foot to hold it open while the others took up positions behind him, according to the report.
The officers saw an “obese” man in a white shirt and underwear inside the home holding a 9-inch kitchen knife. Despite the officers’ commands that he “stop and drop to his knees” he raised the knife and came out of the house, charging at the officers, Braker said.
Officers Jeromy Lima, Regan Williams and Silas Mutz opened fire on Nehez, hitting him nine times. He collapsed facedown on the home’s front walkway, Braker said.
His wife was found dead in their bedroom and the medical examiner’s office said that she had been killed by a stab wound to her heart.
The officers told district attorney’s investigators that because Nehez was moving so quickly towards them there was no time to use non-lethal means to subdue him and they feared for their safety and the safety of their fellow officers.
Because the officers’ “use of force was in response to an immediate threat of great bodily injury or death,” Braker wrote, “their conduct is legally justifiable and no criminal liability attaches.”
Officers had had previous contact with the couple for domestic violence incidents, including arresting both Nehez and his wife, police and prosecutors said.
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