For release on July 10, 2013
Ray Mendoza, Chief Trial Attorney
Santa Clara police officers were legally justified when they shot and killed a man last year who was attacking his father with a kitchen knife, according to a review by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.Three officers fired their weapons at 42-year-old Thompson “Tommy” Peratrovich III, as he raised a knife over his head, its point aimed for the throat of his father, Thomas Peratrovich II. An autopsy showed that the son, Peratrovich III, was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine at the time of his death.
“The quickly evolving deadly/lethal scenario excluded the use of non-lethal means: Taser, baton or pepper spray,” the 25-page report authored by Chief Trial Deputy Ray Mendoza states. “The son, Tommy, forced the officers to use deadly force. The officers saved the life of the father and possibly their own.”
The District Attorney’s Office investigates all fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal. By law, officers are allowed to use deadly force where there is a reasonable need to protect themselves or others from an apparent, imminent threat of death or great bodily injury.
The fatal incident began before midnight on October 10, 2012 when officers were dispatched to an apartment on the 1300 block of Reeve Street for a reported violent argument between the 65-year-old father and his son. This was not the first time officers had come to the apartment for similar domestic disturbances. In one case, the son was investigated for injuring his mother. Nor was this the first time law enforcement had dealt with Peratrovich III, who had a long criminal history of domestic violence and drug abuse. When officers arrived, the scene had calmed. As soon as they prepared to leave, it exploded. Peratrovich III and his father were found arguing and struggling in a cramped kitchen. The son was armed with a knife. The officers repeatedly told the son to drop the weapon – loud warnings that several witnesses heard. Ignoring the commands, the son raised the knife at his father. One officer stated he thought the father was about to be stabbed. Two officers thought their fellow officers were about to be stabbed. The officers – Sgt. Ray Carreira, Officer Nick Nguyen and Officer Christopher Bell, fired their weapons a total of six times, fatally wounding the armed Peratrovich III. ###