San Jose

Fatal SJPD Shooting of Knife-Wielding Man Was Lawful Killing

A fatal shooting by two police officers of a knife-wielding man in San Jose earlier this year was found to be a lawful killing, Santa Clara County prosecutors said today.

San Jose police Officers Ryan Dote and James Soh will not be charged in the death of Phillip Watkins, 23, on Feb. 11, according to the district attorney's office.

"It is apparent from the totality of the evidence that Watkins was intent on dying that day," Deputy District Attorney Charles Gillingham wrote in a 31-page report detailing the events that unfolded that evening in the 1300 block of Sherman Street.

Watkins had called police dispatch around 5 p.m. that day claiming he was faced with an armed intruder threatening to killhis family, which was later found to be false, prosecutors said.

It turned out Watkins made the call from his ex-fiancee's home, where prior to calling dispatch he told the woman and her mother that he wanted to die, according to the district attorney's office.

The threat prompted the woman to hide knives inside the home and place her children inside a car while her mother called a suicide prevention hotline where she got in touch with a mental health worker, prosecutors said.

Watkins told his ex-fiancee that he wanted to be shot by police and obtained a knife he found upstairs, according to the district attorney's office.

Dote and Soh arrived to the scene, where they initially thought they were faced with another situation such as a home invasion robbery, stabbing or kidnapping, prosecutors said.

They had parked their patrol car several homes away from the residence and saw Watkins walk and then run toward them with the knife, prosecutors said.

The officers ordered him to stop and drop the knife, but when he didn't comply they shot him multiple times, according to the district attorney's office.

Watkins was transported to a hospital and was pronounced dead shortly before 6:30 p.m.

Dote and Watkins have worked with the Police Department for eight years, became partners in 2013 and are part of the gang suppression unit, prosecutors said.

Both officers did not receive crisis intervention training, which provides law enforcement skills to help people with mental illness,
prosecutors said.

Officers are allowed to use deadly force when faced with imminent danger, which was present based on the review by the district attorney's office, which investigates all fatal officer-involved incidents in Santa

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us