​For release on May 5, 2016   CONTACT:
Carolyn Powell, Deputy District Attorney
Homicide Unit
(408) 792-2869   DA REPORT: SJPD OFFICER LAWFULLY SHOT SUICIDAL, MENTALLY ILL MAN WHO JUST KILLED FELLOW OFFICER   A San Jose police officer lawfully shot and killed a suicidal, mentally ill man who had just fatally shot Police Officer Michael Johnson with a rifle.
Scott Irwin Dunham, 57, was continuing to threaten officers with his rifle from his apartment balcony in a residential neighborhood last March when Officer Douglas Potwora, who was crouching next to the slain officer, fired the fatal shot.
Prosecutor Carolyn Powell wrote in the 47-page public report: “Dunham appeared not only determined to die at the hands of the police that evening, but equally determined to first take as many police officers’ lives as he could. Ofc. Potwora’s actions on March 24, 2015 prevented further loss of life.” 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 when they or others are faced with imminent danger.
Soon after 6:48 p.m. on March 24, 2015 police responded to the Senterville Terrace condominium complex on a report that an intoxicated and armed man was threatening to kill himself. Officer Johnson crouched behind a car and pointed his weapon at the balcony of the condominium to provide cover for responding officers. Two officers, including Potwora, joined him. Dunham appeared on the balcony and – ignoring the officers’ orders to show his hands - he ducked down. Within seconds, Dunham fired his weapon. Officer Johnson was fatally struck with the bullet.
Dunham showed himself again with the weapon clearly in his hands. Officer Potwora fired, causing Dunham to duck down. This happened again. The third time Dunham appeared over the railing with the weapon, Officer Potwora fired a single shot, striking Dunham in the head.
After several hours, police determined that the apartment was safe to enter. They found Dunham, dead, with a loaded and cocked .30-30 rifle by his side.
Videos taken by civilians corroborated the officers’ accounts of the incident.
Investigation showed that the unemployed Dunham had a history of mental illness, suicidal tendencies, and domestic violence. Police found two other guns and hundreds of bullets in the apartment. An autopsy showed Dunham was on a near toxic mix of medications and alcohol.   # # #

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