Palo Alto police: Man wielded 9-inch knife at officers before he was fatally shot

Image 1 of 2

A 31-year-old man allegedly made a false report to police and wielded a 9-inch metal knife at three officers, two who fatally shot him Christmas Day in Palo Alto.
The suspect, identified as 31-year-old William David Raff, had moved within the past week to a transitional home program that provides psychiatric care in the 600 block of Forest Drive, where he was shot within 19 seconds of confronting officers, police said today.
The two officers who shot Raff were Nicholas Enberg and Zachary Wicht, who have been placed on paid administrative leave, police said.
Around 9:15 p.m. Friday, Raff allegedly called dispatch to provide the name of someone who threatened to hurt another person and was being "really violent," police said.
Three officers who responded to the scene walked to the front of the home, where Raff appeared armed with a knife and jumped around while acting erratically, according to police.
The officers called for more personnel while they backed away from the home and ordered Raff to drop the knife, police said.
One of the three officers also asked for another unit to bring a less-lethal weapon with hard rubber munitions, according to police.
Raff was in the middle of the street while waving the knife and jumping by the time the three officers reached their patrol cars, police said.
Instead of following their continued requests to drop the blade, the 31-year-old ran toward them with the knife and screamed, according to police.
In response, one officer deployed a Taser stun gun while the other two fired their pistols, police said.
Enberg had to move away from Raff to avoid contact with him, according to police.
The officers administered first aid to Raff until he was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Officers were unable to find someone with the name provided by Raff, who did not tell dispatch of any weapons present, according to police.
Following the shooting, police recovered the knife, which had a "lightly serrated edge and a tapered, slightly-rounded tip," police said.
Investigators also found nine bullet casings, but have not determined how many shots each officer fired, police said.
Enberg has worked in law enforcement for five years, the second half of which has been spent with Palo Alto police. Wicht has one-and-a-half years of law enforcement experience, all with the department, police said.
The department only names officers who use firearms on suspects and is not identifying the third officer who used a Taser.
None of the officers were injured, according to police.
Investigators have taken statements from three independent witnesses who saw the shooting take place, according to police.
Police cars at the scene captured the encounter and shooting on audio and video systems, which will be sent to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office along with other evidence as part of the investigation, police said.
The city's independent police auditor will also receive the evidence and review the Police Department's administrative investigation once it is completed.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police dispatch at (650) 329-2413. Those who wish to remain anonymous may send an email to or leave a text message or voicemail to (650) 383-8984.