Man killed in Sunnyvale officer-involved shooting ID'd

SUNNYVALE (BCN) - A suspect in a liquor store robbery killed in an officer-involved shooting Wednesday in Sunnyvale has been identified as 28-year-old Joseph Weber, according to the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office.

An autopsy on Weber's body revealed he died from multiple gunshot wounds, an employee of the medical examiner's office said.

The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety announced Thursday that Officer Benjamin Kroutil, a 13-year-old law enforcement veteran, had shot Weber and was placed on standard paid administrative leave.

Sunnyvale public safety Capt. David Pitts said that the duration of administrative leaves in officer-involved shootings varies but they usually last from one to two weeks.

The Department is investigating the case for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and thus far "nothing has been brought forward" to indicate that Kroutil was not justified in shooting Weber, Pitts said.

According to the department, Kroutil was the first officer to arrive at an armed robbery reported at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday at the Grewalz Liquor & Groceries store at 1125 Tasman Drive.

Kroutil found the suspect in an alley and armed with a knife. The officer ordered the suspect to drop the weapon, but he did not comply and advanced toward Kroutil, who then shot and wounded the man, according to the department's account.

The suspect died later after being transferred to a hospital.

Kroutil, a former officer with the Modesto Police Department, was among five Modesto officers named as defendants in a federal lawsuit filed on May 11, 2012, by a woman who claimed they entered her home without a warrant and some drew their guns while pressuring her to allow her car to be repossessed and towed away, according to the suit.

The woman, Rose Letona, alleged in her suit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento that on April 5, 2011, a man from a towing firm came to her home in Modesto to tow her car without producing evidence of repossession and after she refused, the man called Modesto police.

Letona's daughter drove the car into the garage and closed the door. When Kroutil and four other officers arrived, they entered her home without a search warrant, demanded she turn over the car keys, ignored her requests to leave and threatened to take her and her two daughters to jail, the plaintiff stated.

At least two of the officers, possibly Kroutil, entered her garage with their guns drawn and one, Officer Brian Ferguson, threatened to shoot her dogs if they were not withdrawn, Letona alleged.

At one point, the suit stated that when Letona tried to prevent Ferguson from going into her garage, Kroutil blocked her and "pushed Plaintiff away in her chest area."

Ferguson twisted her arm behind her back, grabbed her by the neck and placed her into a police car but did not arrest her, the suit stated.

Letona, who claimed that she was involved in a dispute with a credit company over interest owed on the car, alleged that the officers engaged in reckless behavior, violated her civil rights and were responsible for her being diagnosed with post-traumatic distress disorder.

But Letona and the defendants, including the city of Modesto, came to an out-of-court financial settlement and the suit was dismissed on June 11, 2013, according to federal court records.

Pitts said he had no knowledge about the Modesto case.