WWII vet killed by police during welfare check; widow suing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

WWII vet killed by police during welfare check; widow suing

Eugene Craig died at the hands of police during a welfare check in September of last year. His widow has filed suit. (Source: Craig family/KPIX/CNN) Eugene Craig died at the hands of police during a welfare check in September of last year. His widow has filed suit. (Source: Craig family/KPIX/CNN)
Craig served in the Navy during World War II. He is seen here with his wife Harue. (Source: Craig family/KPIX/CNN) Craig served in the Navy during World War II. He is seen here with his wife Harue. (Source: Craig family/KPIX/CNN)

SARATOGA, CA (KPIX/CNN) - The 90-year-old wife of a Navy veteran shot and killed by deputies in his own home has filed a complaint against the deputy and the county she lives in for civil rights and excessive force violations.

It started off as a welfare check.  The granddaughter of 86-year old World War II veteran Eugene Craig called to see if someone could go check on him and his wife Harue at their Saratoga home in Sept. 12 last year.

It ended with a Santa Clara County sheriff deputy shooting Eugene Craig to death as his 90-year-old wife cowered behind him.

In a federal lawsuit filed in San Jose Monday, the widow says her husband became increasingly alarmed as the deputies kicked in two doors to gain entry to the house.

"There could have been so many things done in between breaking down two doors and letting bullets fly," said Ara Jabagchourian, the family's attorney.

According to Jabagchourian, Eugene Craig heard noises and saw shadows. He thought there was an intruder. Then he heard the deputies break through a garage door. He told his wife to get behind him, and he grabbed his .38.

"He thought, in his mind, that he had to protect his wife. And he did so by physically putting himself between who he thought were the intruders and his wife," Jabagchourian said.

When deputies broke through the second interior garage door, Eugene Craig was pointing his gun in their direction. The lawsuit alleges Sgt. Doug Ulrich fired several times, killing him less than an hour after beginning the welfare check.

"It's still not making sense. Why it is that officers are coming in guns drawn when there was no circumstance, any criminal activity occurring at the time?" Jabagchourian said.

County officials say they can't comment on pending litigation, but at the time of the shooting last year, sheriff officials said deputies had knocked on the door repeatedly and called the home before deciding to force their way inside. They also told the Mercury News that Eugene Craig ignored orders to drop his gun. 

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