San Jose police identify man killed during officer-involved shooting

SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- Police on Thursday have identified a man who was fatally shot by San Jose officers after he allegedly brandished an axe during a weekend disturbance at an apartment complex.

Francis de la Cruz, 35, of San Jose, was rushed for medical treatment to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. San Jose police said Officer Juan Avila, who has been on the force for two years, opened fire after the man refused officers' commands to drop the axe.

Police were called to a San Jose apartment complex, located in the 100 block of East St. John Street, around 12:35 a.m. on May 28, 2017.  A security guard at the complex asked for help with a disturbance at the complex.

When Avila and other officers arrived, they went to an apartment where de la Cruz was but he refused to open the front door, police said. The officers saw smoke and flames coming from inside the unit and forced their way inside the residence.e

One person in the apartment surrendered and was taken into custody. Police said de la Cruz was holding an axe but dropped it. After officers used their stun gun on the man, which did not subdue him, de la Cruz allegedly picked up the axe again and moved toward the officers, one of whom opened fire.

Police said the man was shot at least once before he was taken for medical care. Investigators said the man had several prior run-ins with police, including charges for weapons, drugs and prior contacts for mental illness.

Police Chief Eddie Garcia said: "This is tragic for the suspect and for the suspects family, but what often gets lost in these cases is the impact on the officers, who seemingly have the deck stacked against them in these types of incidents."

Authorities said Avila has been placed on routine paid administrative leave while the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and San Jose police homicide conduct a joint criminal investigation into the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Mike Montonye or Detective Jason Tanner of the San Jose Police Department's Homicide Unit at 408-277-5283.