After wife beaten, officers shoot armed husband; police suspect man may have wanted to be killed
Matthew B. Stannard
(SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif.) -- A report analyzing a year's worth of domestic violence deaths in Santa Clara County was released yesterday, less than 12 hours after a Sunnyvale man was killed by police who had responded to a report that he had seriously beaten his wife. Daniel McGovern was shot near his Balboa Court home at about 1:30 yesterday morning after he allegedly pulled a gun and pointed it at officers who had gone to the house to investigate the beating of his wife, according to the Sunnyvale Public Safety Department.
He was identified as a licensed firearms dealer and a longtime armorer and mechanic for the East Palo Alto Police Department. In that position, he maintained both the department's weapons and its vehicles.
Sunnyvale Capt. Chuck Eaneff said police had been notified late Sunday night that a woman had been admitted to a local hospital with injuries received in a domestic attack. Her condition was being described as serious. Officers later learned the woman's husband was at home and "threatening suicide," Eaneff said.
McGovern was not home when police arrived, but drove up to the house later, Eaneff said. Police demanded that he show his hands, but the man allegedly refused, and "indicated he would not be arrested."
McGovern pulled a gun, pointed it at officers and was shot, Eaneff said. He died at the scene. Police are investigating whether he was trying to force police to kill him. Both officers involved in the shooting were placed on routine administrative leave.
"Really, at this point the way things happened, we're really not sure if he was trying to win that gun battle or not," Eaneff said.
Some elements of the deadly scenario carry hallmarks identified in a report coincidentally released yesterday by Santa Clara County's Domestic Violence Death Review Team.
The team reviewed 18 domestic violence-related deaths in 2000, nine of them homicides, the rest suicides or accidents.
Only one case reviewed by the panel had a restraining order on record. Eaneff said there was no record of a restraining order in the Sunnyvale case. In addition, 15 of the 18 cases in 2000 included threats of suicide or homicide preceding the actual violent act.
Three of the cases reviewed by the panel involved individuals who apparently committed suicide by creating situations in which police were forced to shoot them, said Deputy District Attorney Rolanda Pierre-Dixon.
Other red flags identified in the report included cases involving prior physical violence, stalking behavior or excessive jealousy by a spouse and mental health or substance abuse problems. Another common thread was victims talking about divorce or separation with a spouse who could not "handle it."
The report recommended developing better domestic violence reporting procedures, promoting restraining orders for victims and improving the dissemination of domestic violence assistance information.
A December report on domestic violence deaths in Contra Costa County reached similar conclusions.
Meanwhile, McGovern was described yesterday as a dedicated worker for the East Palo Alto Police Department.
"We're just greatly saddened by the whole situation," said East Palo Alto Lt. Rahn Sibley.
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