A Santa Clara police officer today was cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the shooting death of an intoxicated man who reportedly posed a threat to the officer early last year.
According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, 42-year-old Jose Jesus Ramirez was reaching for a loaded revolver when he was shot to death by Santa Clara Police Officer Joshua Craig. The district attorney’s office compiled a report on the January 2012 incident, which indicated that at least three witnesses heard Craig shout at Ramirez to put his hands on his head prior to the shooting.
“Officer Craig had no way of knowing if Ramirez intended to shoot himself, shoot the officer, or provoke the officer into shooting him,” the 18-page district attorney’s report reads. “However, the law is clear that an officer may reasonably use deadly force when he confronts and armed suspect in close proximity, whose actions indicate intent to attack.”
Craig was on patrol last January 14 at about 10 p.m. when he pulled over a Toyota sedan with expired tags. The incident occurred in the parking lot of an apartment complex where Ramirez lived, and the officer had decided to let the suspect go with a warning, despite signs that Ramirez may have been intoxicated.
Just prior to releasing Ramirez, Craig spotted the revolver next to the suspect’s leg and pulled out his service weapon. The officer had his gun trained on the suspect when Ramirez allegedly began reaching for the weapon. Ramirez had also claimed he didn’t speak English, despite having a conversation with the officer initially after the traffic stop.
Craig fired his weapon twice, killing Ramirez, and prosecutors say he did so because he was in fear for his life.
“Ramirez’s motive for moving the revolver to an easily accessible position and ignoring Officer Craig’s commands may never be known,” the D.A.’s report states.
Prosecutors add that toxicology tests showed Ramirez’ blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit. He also had a history of alcoholism and depression, according to the report.