Widow of elderly Saratoga Navy vet killed by deputy files wrongful death suit

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A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in federal court on Monday in the case of an 86-year-old Navy veteran who was shot and killed by a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy last year.

Attorneys for the widow of Eugene Craig said the Navy vet was gunned down in his home as he tried to shield his wife from what the couple believed to be intruders on the evening of Sept. 12, 2016.

The lawsuit alleges civil rights and excessive force violations.

According to Harue Craig's attorneys, prior to the shooting, deputies kicked down two doors before opening fire inside the Craigs' Saratoga home on Titus Avenue.

Attorneys said their client stated that both she and her late husband were “very scared” and did not know why their doors were being kicked down.

In an effort to protect his wife, Eugene Craig grabbed his .38 caliber revolver and stood in front of her as they heard people coming into their home, according to the plaintiff.  

The Sheriff's Office said that deputies were sent to the home to conduct a welfare check and that they clearly identified themselves before entering the home-- calling the residential phone, tapping on windows and repeatedly announcing their presence.

After almost an hour, deputies eventually went into the home with the belief that someone may be in distress, according officials.

Inside deputies came into contact with Eugene Craig who was armed with a revolver, officials said.

He raised his weapon at deputies and ignored orders to drop it, prompting deputy Doug Ulrich to open fire, the Sheriff's Office said.

Ulrich was placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine procedure in officer-involved shootings in the county.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said, "By law, officers are allowed to use deadly force when they or others are faced with imminent danger."

The office said its review of the shooting is ongoing and that it "investigates all fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal."

A Santa Clara County spokeswoman told KTVU on Monday that the county will review the lawsuit once it receives it, though it is against policy to comment on pending litigation.