For release on September 17, 2019
Supervising Deputy District Attorney
DA Report: Sunnyvale Officer Lawfully Shot Knife-Wielding Robber
A Sunnyvale police officer lawfully shot and killed a transient who was advancing on him with a knife, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Joseph Weber, 28, had just robbed a liquor store of a pack of cigarettes, brandishing the same weapon at a clerk.
Prosecutor Carolyn Powell’s 39-page public report concludes: “Seeing Mr. Weber moving toward him while still holding his knife and believing his life was in danger, Officer (Benjamin) Kroutil, who was legally permitted to stand his ground rather than retreat, reasonably believed he did not have any other option but to use his weapon.”
The District Attorney’s Office investigates all fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal. By law, officers can use deadly force when they or others are faced with imminent danger.
The incident began on April 8, 2015, shortly after 11:00 a.m., when the officer responded to a call reporting an armed robbery at Grewalz Liquor & Groceries on Tasman Drive in Sunnyvale. The clerk reported that a man, later identified as Weber, had just robbed him.
Officer Kroutil, who had been a police officer for approximately 14 years and had been employed by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety for approximately a year, quickly arrived and repeatedly ordered Weber to drop the knife.
Weber did not respond to commands and shook his head back and forth in a way that Officer Kroutil interpreted as “nope.”
When he continued to advance, the officer fired his service weapon five times, striking Weber four times.
Multiple civilian witnesses witnessed or heard the event, which was captured by video on the officer’s dash cam and corroborated the officer’s account.
Weber had felony convictions, including soliciting someone to try to murder his mother.