Man Shot Dead by Palo Alto Police Within 19 Seconds of Officers Confronting Him - NBC Bay Area
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Man Shot Dead by Palo Alto Police Within 19 Seconds of Officers Confronting Him



    Man Shot Dead by Palo Alto Police Within 19 Seconds of Officers' Confronting Him

    A 31-year-old man allegedly made a false report to police and wielded a 9-inch metal knife at three officers, two of whom fatally shot him Christmas Day in Palo Alto. Marianne Favro reports. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015)

    A 31-year-old man wielding a 9-inch metal knife was shot and killed Christmas Day in Palo Alto within 19 seconds of confronting police, authorities said. 

    The suspect, identified as William David Raff, had moved within the past week to a transitional home for mental health clients on the 600 block of Forest Drive, where he was fatally shot after reporting a false incident, police said Tuesday.

    Police said the officers who fired at Raff, Nicholas Enberg and Zachary Wicht, have been placed on paid administrative leave.

    Raff allegedly called police dispatch around 9:15 p.m. Friday to provide the name of someone who threatened to hurt another person and was being "really violent," police said.

    Three responding officers 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 and ordered Raff to drop the knife. One officer also asked for another unit to bring a less-lethal weapon with hard rubber munitions, police said.

    Raff was jumping in the middle of the street while waving his knife by the time the three officers reached their patrol cars, police said.

    Instead of following their continued requests to drop the blade, Raff ran toward them with the knife, screaming, police said, adding that Enberg had to move away from Raff to avoid contact.

    "The suspect moved to the middle of the street and continued to jump around and wave a knife," Lt. Zach Perron said. "Then all of a sudden he ran at a full sprint at one of the officers."

    In response, one officer deployed a Taser while the other two fired their pistols, police said.

    Suspect Fatally Shot By Police Called 911: Palo Alto PD

    [BAY] Suspect Fatally Shot By Police Called 911: Palo Alto PD
    Palo Alto police say the suspect killed Friday night when officers opened fire say the suspect called 911 to bring police to the area. Marianne Favro reports.
    (Published Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015)

    "In 19 seconds our officers did everything to deescalate the situation," Perron said. "They retreated several times, summoned emergency assistance and requested equipment with less lethal force."

    The officers administered first aid to Raff until he was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

    In a phone interview with NBC Bay Area, Raff's friend, Ian Cole, said the details of the incident does not add up.

    "I'm completely devastated," Cole said. "He was a compassionate, loving person to everybody he knew and was absolutely not violent."

    Raff had lived in the transitional home for just a few days. A spokesperson from Monumental Mental Health, which runs the program, said all clients must be referred by a clinician and are not accepted if they have a history of violence or sexual abuse.

    Officers were unable to find anyone at the scene with the name that Raff had initially provided dispatch. Following the shooting, officers recovered the knife, which had a "lightly serrated edge and a tapered, slightly-rounded tip," police said.

    Police Fatally Shoot Suspect Holding Knife: Palo Alto PD

    [BAY] Police Fatally Shoot Suspect Holding Knife: Palo Alto PD
    Palo Alto police say a suspect armed with a knife was killed Friday night when officers opened fire after the suspect charged at officers.
    (Published Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015)

    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 1.5 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 Palo Alto 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 can send an email to or send a text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.

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