Police and Law Enforcement

Widow of WWII veteran fatally shot by police sues Santa Clara County

The widow of a World War II veteran who was fatally shot by California deputies during a welfare check last September filed a lawsuit against the county this week.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, claimed that Santa Clara deputies used excessive force and violated due process when they performed a welfare check at Eugene Craig's home on Sept. 12, 2016.

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Craig, 86, and his wife, Harue, 90, heard noises outside their home and thought intruders were trying to break in, according to the lawsuit. Craig retrieved his .38 caliber revolver and stood in front of his wife to protect her. 

Despite a neighbor offering to help officers get in contact with the elderly couple, the lawsuit alleges that deputies forced their way into the house. They shot Craig multiple times as his wife "cowered behind him."

Officials from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said after the shooting, deputies spent nearly an hour calling the couple before breaking down a side door, according to Mercury News. Craig ignored the deputies when they asked him to drop his gun, officials claimed. 

The family said the shooting was "excessive and unreasonable" because the couple wasn't a threat to the officers. 

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The complaint said Harue Craig suffered from emotional stress watching her husband die in front of her. She also had to deal with funeral and burial expenses because of the incident.

She seeks damages for his wrongful death including compensation for the expenses and financial support that incurred. 

A spokesman for the Santa Clara County's Sheriff's Office said the department could not comment on pending litigation, FOX 8 reported.