San Jose, CA – The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has determined that a Sunnyvale police officer’s use of deadly force against a man who stabbed his ex-girlfriend and murdered a police K9 was justified (video below).
The incident began at approximately 1 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2017, when Sunnyvale police received a report of a domestic violence-related stabbing at the Encasa apartment complex on East Weddell Drive, The Mercury News reported.
When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered that a 25-year-old woman had been stabbed in the abdomen by her ex-boyfriend, 25-year-old parolee Jesus Contreras Jr., according to FOX News.
"She told officers that Contreras had told her he would 'cut her to pieces,' stabbed her, and barricaded himself in her home," the district attorney’s report read, according to The Mercury News. “She said that Contreras was on parole and did not want to go back to jail.”
Bodycam footage showed the officers as they tried to convince the armed felon to surrender, but he refused.
“Sunnyvale police! Come to the front door, unarmed, with your hands up!” one officer yelled, as they made their way into apartment 3204.
“The suspect taunted the officers and threw a glass frame at them which hit the doorframe and shattered,” the district attorney’s report read.
Officer Stephen Eckford ultimately released his partner, K9 Jax, into the apartment in an attempt to apprehend the irate suspect before he could barricade himself inside another room.
Contreras managed to stab K9 Jax repeatedly, causing the police dog to yelp and howl in pain, the video showed.
“[Officer] Eckford, upon hearing his canine Jax yelping, entered the apartment to assist his canine,” the report read. “Jax ran from the left side of the apartment into the living area bleeding profusely from his injuries. Officers followed Eckford into the apartment to provide cover for him.”
K9 Jax, a 4-year-old German Shepherd, was rushed to an animal hospital, but succumbed to his injuries later that night, The Mercury News reported.
Back at the apartment, officers continued their attempts to coax the screaming, wailing man out of his apartment.
“Jesus, I need you to cooperate,” one officer said. “I need you to put the knife down and come out!”
“Open the f--king door and see what happens,” Contreras yelled back at police moments later. “Shut up, n---a!”
Contreras intermittently exploded with growls and guttural screams throughout the encounter.
At times, he quickly opened and closed the door to the room he was in, and told officers that he could see them.
“You ready? You gonna shoot me?” he asked them.
“No, we want you to come out with your hands up,” one officer responded.
“That’s what I’m not gonna do, b---h!” Contreras yelled. “F--k that, man. I didn’t do s--t, bro!”
The suspect, who was later found to be under the influence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, and THC, began screaming at the officers to shoot him.
He then hurled a six-inch knife at Lieutenant Emmett Larkin and a second officer standing nearby, at which point the lieutenant fired two rounds, according to the district attorney’s report.
“Motherf--kers! I’m still here, b---c!” Contreras screamed at them. “Come on, you little p---y b---hes!”
“I’m dying already,” he howled a moment later.
The gunfire activated the apartment’s smoke alarms just before one of the officers confirmed that Contreras said he had been hit.
Another officer said he could tell that the suspect was “down,” but that he could not visually confirm that he had been struck by the gunfire.
The officers ultimately cut a hole in a wall of the apartment so they could see Contreras, then rushed in to render aid, the video showed.
The medical examiner later determined that Contreras died of a single gunshot wound to the lateral side of his right upper arm, according to the report.
Investigators found three more knives in the room where the suspect had barricaded himself, and found another blade in his back pocket, The Mercury News reported.
On Feb. 25, district attorney’s office determined that the shooting was justified.
Lt. Larkin shot Contreras “in self-defense and defense of others,” the district attorney’s report read.
“California law permits any person to use deadly force where there is a reasonable need to protect oneself or another person from an apparent, imminent threat of death or great bodily injury,” the district attorney continued. “Lt. Larkin actually and reasonably believed that he needed to use deadly force to protect himself and others.”
The district attorney noted that Lt. Larkin did not have a “duty to wait until a further injury or death has been inflicted” in order for deadly use of force to be appropriate.
“The law allows Lt. Larkin to fire his weapon in defense of others [and himself] until the suspect no longer posed an imminent threat,” the report read. “Lt. Larkin's belief the suspect posed an imminent threat was clearly reasonable given the suspect's words, stabbing of [his ex-girlfriend], assaultive actions toward the officers and the fact he had already stabbed the canine.”
You can watch the officer’s harrowing encounter with Contreras in the video below. WARNING - Graphic Content: