War Vet Faces Multiple Felonies after Suicide Attempt

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2017, Vincent Craft, a Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD and going through a bitter divorce, attempted to take his own life.  However, when sheriff’s deputies arrived, they saw a man armed with a classic rifle and arrested him.

Mr. Craft now faces at least five strikes and could face the rest of his life in prison, as he is charged with two counts of assault with a firearm upon a peace officer, with enhancements for the use of a firearm, exhibiting a firearm to a peace officer, and two counts of criminal threats.

At around noon on November 11, Deputies Derek Schmidt and Dean Nyland of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office were called to a rural area in Yolo County for a welfare check on Vincent Craft, who was described as telling the reporting party he had held a gun to his head and was threatening to kill himself.  There were also reports that he had threatened to kill his landlord and that he may have multiple weapons.

The deputies tried to contact Mr. Craft, and found him “distraught” and “complaining that no one cared.”  They said, “The female was attempting to calm Craft.”

Mr. Craft came to the front door of his mobile home and appeared intoxicated: “Craft’s voice appeared slurred and he appeared to sway a few times.”

When one deputy said he wanted to confirm his welfare, “Craft ordered me off his property.  Craft stated that he would protect himself with any means necessary.  That I knew who he was and what he was capable of.  Craft added that he was locked and loaded and soon after Craft stated that he was ready to fight.”

Mr. Craft returned to the interior of his motor home and shut the door behind him.

It was at this point when the deputies observed Mr. Craft standing at the front door, pointing a rifle out the door.  “The rifle barrel was extended approximately 24 inches past the exterior wall of the motor home.”

The deputies testified that they yelled several times for him to drop the gun.  Mr. Craft went back inside and closed the door, then two minutes later he opened the door itself.  At this point, Mr. Craft fell out of the motor home, landing on his back.

They took him into custody.  Mr. Craft told the deputies he had not committed a crime, he believed that they had accosted him, and he was never intending on shooting the deputies.  He also denied pointing the firearm out of his motor home.

There is a different account to this story.  A friend of his told the police, “He was making suicidal comments.  He was ready to meet Jesus.  He suffered from PTSD.  It was Veterans Day.  He was going through a divorce.”  Concerned, she called the sheriffs for a welfare check.

She said the sheriffs pulled up to his little trailer in the middle of nowhere – with the defendant drunk and suffering from PTSD – and they banged on his metal door.  According to Mr. Craft, they did not announce themselves and he had no idea that they were cops.  He took the rifle that he was going to shoot himself with and opened the door and saw people outside, but couldn’t make out anything but vague outlines.

He pointed the gun out his door.

He never left the trailer or fired a shot.  The deputies were hiding at this point.

He then went outside and fell over backwards, half in and half out of the trailer, with no weapon in his hands at this point in time.

As one of the deputies testified during the preliminary hearing, at only one time in three, when he came to the door, was he armed with the rifle.  The rifle itself was described as an antique from the 1940s or 1950s.  At no point was he directly aiming it at the deputies.

Mr. Craft has no criminal record.  He was trying to or contemplating ending his life rather than harming others.  Once arrested, he was placed in custody for several months without receiving any sort of treatment.  He eventually was bailed out of jail by another inmate.

However, once he was out, he was in an even worse state.  His phone was cut off.  He still was getting no treatment from the county and he currently faces five felonies and 23 years in prison.

In the case of Eric Pape, Deputy DA Jay Linden fought to keep evidence from the judge that stated that Mr. Pape was at the hospital on a 5150 (involuntary detainment for psychiatric evaluation per Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150).  This prevented Judge Dan Maguire from knowing why Mr. Pape was there in the first place.

The deputy DAs fight tooth and nail to exclude this kind of evidence, even though during a preliminary hearing the judge and not a jury has to weigh the evidence.  Given that, a judge should be able to distinguish between what should and what should not be taken into account.

The same thing happened in the case of Vincent Craft – like Mr. Pape, he had no meaningful record.  His only previous record of arrest was for a DUI more than ten years ago.

Mr. Craft, like Mr. Pape, was intent on killing himself.  Mr. Craft had real problems and was crying out for help.  However, the judge during his preliminary hearing was not able to weigh all the evidence, much of which was not only ignored but vigorously excluded by the DA to prevent the judge from being able to see it in court.

Mr. Craft will appear this morning before Judge David Rosenberg, as they continue to figure out what to do next in this matter.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 thoughts on “War Vet Faces Multiple Felonies after Suicide Attempt”

  1. Tia Will

    From the information provided we have an individual with PTSD experiencing suicidal ideation. We also have the subjective impression of the suspect and the police. We are at a branch point. We have two ways to secure the safety of the community. We could treat this as mental illness and go with hospitalization and treatment in an inpatient facility. Or we could go with punishment and imprisonment.

  2. Howard P

    David… need to commend you for your ‘coverage’ on today’s article on the Vet, facing MH/Suicidal issues, and felony charges… events that began 6 months ago… too bad same had not been done by someone six months after Eric’s saga began… not pointing a finger here, but perhaps you bringing up the newer issue will result in a better outcome for the Vet.   And many others in the future, by raising awareness.   Good work. (yes, same comment made on the other thread)

  3. Ken A

    It looks like David does not feel the same way but if I heard that “There were also reports that he had threatened to kill his landlord and that he may have multiple weapons.” I would not write: “Mr. Craft has no criminal record.  He was trying to or contemplating ending his life rather than harming others.”

    P.S. Mr. Craft, was NOT like Mr. Pape, and was NOT intent on killing himself (guys that are “intent” on killing themselves actually do it)…

    1. David Greenwald

      Important to point out at this point these are just accusations.  There has been nothing proven in a court of law.  The defense disputes the account that he threatened others or that he was consciously aware of what he was doing during this time.

      1. Howard P

        Important to point out that accusations are not proof in a court of law, and neither are the truth of what happened… juries have decided that the State did not “prove the case”, yet the fact is, the truth is, guilty (factually, truthfully) folk who have committed crimes, walk… going to get a glass of OJ.

        That said, the important thing is those genuinely dealing with PTSD, other MH issues, will rarely resolve those, get healing, by the operation of the court/”justice” system…

    2. Howard P

      Ken… having worked a suicide prevention line, there are people who are ‘intent’, but a part of them still cries out for life… that’s the ember that someone who cares, can give strength, reassurance to, to defer, if not deter.  And often, get to healing…   but if no one does, the hopeful part, literally, dies out…

    3. Tia Will

      Ken

      (guys that are “intent” on killing themselves actually do it)…”

      Not necessarily. Ability to complete the act at a time when one is actually “intent” is key. If you are “intent” upon killing yourself, but are in a locked ward of a psychiatric hospital, you are less likely to “succeed ” in killing  yourself than if you are sitting in your home, loaded gun in hand. “Intent to kill” is frequently a transient feeling of highly variable duration . Thus the importance of accurate mental health assessment and intervention. My son is alive today because of intervention both within and outside the family.

  4. Jeff M

    Again the criticism of law enforcement that that they are not trained psychiatrists.

    There is an absurd and irrational line being drawn by the social justice set.  I see a similar line for the criticism of law enforcement in poor ubran neighborhoods that the police are not surrogate parents to the young men in gangs and killing each other.

    Law enforcement has a role that is complex enough without projecting onto it responsibilities to repair the damage of decades of failed social experiments.  There are always going to be encounters with the police that appear sub-optimized from an emotional perspective because the human animal remains a sub-optimized emotional being.  This is not the fault of the police.  But there is some blame to go around.

    1. Ken A

      I think Jeff knows that even if something is not “the fault of the police” (or the fault of the DA or the fault of a gun) that people that hate the police (or the DA or guns) will try and blame anything bad that happens on the police (or the DA or guns).

      P.S. I predict that we will see a couple more Vanguard articles on this topic with headlines like “DA who does not care about mentally ill veterans still charging Vincent Craft” and “Why we not only need an assault weapons ban but a classic rifle ban”…

    2. Howard P

      Yes, Jeff… your use of adjectives, most meant disparangingly, is impressive… will give you a clue… for thinking people (if there are any) they invariably get in the way of good points you actually make… consider an alternative…

      Law enforcement folk are not trained psychiatrists (true, and they should not be expected to be).

      Law enforcement has a role that is complex enough without projecting onto it responsibilities to repair the damage of decades of failed approaches to deal with MH, other, issues.  There are always going to be encounters with the police that appear sub-optimized from an emotional perspective because the human animal remains a sub-optimized emotional being.  This is not the fault of the police.  But there is some blame to go around.

       

      Meant as a friendly suggestion…

      Although I’m pretty sure you will not take it as such…

    3. David Greenwald Post author

      Have you ever talked to people who work with NAMI or other mental health organizations. The biggest problem that you have is you have people who call the police to help and their loved ones end up killed or in jail. Who wants to call for help who can’t help?

      1. Ken A

        It is a BIG problem when people call macho guys (and gals) with guns who like to be in control to help them with a crazy (often armed) friend or family member that is out of control.  Cops are not trained mental health experts and when a crazy person does not do what the cops want them to do they often get shot (or if lucky just get a wood shampoo)…

      2. Jeff M

        You don’t get it… or else you do get it but are playing some hidden agenda.

        Maybe because I have been managing/directing/leading employees for most of my working life, I have a pretty clear perspective on the need to understand, delineate and communicate this thing called role.  I am also sensitive to scope/mission creep… whereby stakeholders of a role just evolve the expectations of the role base on their own interests/needs… but fail to see that this isn’t connected to the administrative feedback loop to actually implement the changes to the job description of the employee.

        Lastly there is a need to be realistic about the interest in the scope of a role and the actual market supply for human resources that can meet those requirements.   If it is too good to be true, then it is not.

        A good example is, in my business, the loan officer and the loan underwriter roles.  The loan officer (a marketing and sales role), always wants the underwriter (a technical and analysis role) to be great at communication so that the loan officer can include the underwriter in sales calls to impress clients.   Conversely, the loan underwriter wants the loan officer to be more technical and analytical so that the loan officer does not over-sell loans that cannot be underwritten.

        If you find a good underwriter, they will likely not make good sales people.  If you find a good loan officer they will likely not make good technicians and analysts.

        These roles have to work together as a team to reach optimum performance for the organization, but it would be wrong to expect a single human resource to be all these things.  There might be a few people out there that can be all these things, but not enough to fill the need.

        When you add more expectations to the role, you shrink the pool of available talent qualified for the job.  You also tend to increase the cost of the talent because of market supply and demand rules.

        The job of a cop… if you are honest… is one that requires a certain set of employee characteristics that are not likely to include high-functioning sensitivity.   In fact, those cops that are wired with high-functioning sensitivity, like my late brother In-law, end up messed up in the head and dead because of the profound inputs to their sensitivity dealing with the worst parts of society.

        And then there is the job of the DA… a role that is there explicitly to prevent criminal harm to the rest of the community by prosecuting criminals and criminal suspects.   Let’s say that the DA has high-functioning sensitivity…. that could very well end up being a conflict of interest give the responsibilities of the job.  For justice to be fair, often justice needs to be blind.  Otherwise it is based on individual or tribal morality… which means more mistakes will be claimed across the board from those owning a different values and different morality.

        What you seem to be complaining about most of the time is the lack of support services for law enforcement.   That is something we could agree on.  But then you blow it and attack law enforcement for not filling the gap that fills your high-sensitivity need.

        I call it irrational because it is so clearly inappropriate and unreasonable.   Maybe it is just a form of ignorance lacking the life experience dealing with difficult and challenging lines of work where the concept of role is extremely prevalent.

    4. Tia Will

      Jeff

      Again the criticism of law enforcement that that they are not trained psychiatrists.”

      I do not believe that this is a criticism of law enforcement. It is a statement that we should not be using police for the difficult and complicated role of primary responders to psychiatric emergencies. Few police are fully trained to be able to make these kinds of assessments and we should not be expecting them to do so. That is a criticism of the system we have, not of the officers that we dispatch which are doing the best they can with the resources and knowledge with which we, as a society provide them.

      1. Jeff M

        I hear you, but I think you are ignoring the actual criticism that is directed at law enforcement.

        Direct the criticism where criticism is due, not at convenience targets that serve your ideological agenda.

        1. David Greenwald

          I know DPD had a pilot program where they had a mobile psychologist/ counselor who could help respond to calls of this sort.  Perhaps we should look into how effective it was.

        2. Jeff M

          Write it up.  Work on it.  Make a case for it.  I would support it too.  But it would need to be a standalone specialist as it is unreasonable to expect the average officer to cover these services.

        3. David Greenwald

          I did a few years ago: “Lt. Tom Waltz talked to the Vanguard, saying that there was a $2.1 million grant for Turning Point Community Programs to provide community-based crisis response services to Yolo County residents coming into contact with law enforcement while experiencing a psychiatric crisis for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017.”

          I have a message into Pytel to see if they renewed it and how it worked.

        4. David Greenwald

          Pytel tells me the county ended the program.  The department feels like the position was beneficial and there is a void without it.

        5. Jeff M

          Seems like we should both work together to start a protest about this.  Why was it ended?  Why don’t we have activism and advocacy for these types of services?

        6. Howard P

          Add me to the list…

          A sure sign the world is about to end… David, Jeff M and I agreeing, and looking to be in common cause… seriously, what can I do to help?

          “Teams” bring together skill sets that individuals often do not have…

        7. Ken A

          I know many liberals want to change the second amendment so ONLY the police and military can own guns, but since Psychiatrist’s (and others who are not sworn police officers) are still allowed to own guns I think David should answer Alan’s question.

  5. John Hobbs

    “The job of a cop… if you are honest… is one that requires a certain set of employee characteristics that are not likely to include high-functioning sensitivity. In fact, those cops that are wired with high-functioning sensitivity, like my late brother In-law, end up messed up in the head and dead because of the profound inputs to their sensitivity dealing with the worst parts of society.”

    So you admit an emotional bias?

    When you type “high-functioning sensitivity, I read “with normal compassion and empathy.”

    If departments continue to cull candidates with high IQs and nominal compassion, we’ll continue to get irrationally frightened cops who shoot unarmed civilians.

     

    1. Jeff M

      Well if you think that the average Davis liberal is the benchmark for what is “normal”, I would suggest you get out of town more often.

      In terms of what is normal, I would peg the Davis population as being tilted toward the hypersensitivity realm.  Normal sensitivity isn’t the stuff that gets all wee-weed up about a word or symbolism.  Normal sensitivity tends to be connected with greater pragmatism.

      I really think you are out of touch with the requirements of the law enforcement job.  I get the impression that you would rather see a police force of Birkenstock-wearing, clipboard-carrying counselors employing careful speech to influence people out of their bad behavior.

      Did you know that there are actually a lot of people out there with interests to rob, rape and kill?  Did you know that the homicide rate in London where they follow your model of weaponless “high-IQ” police with lots of training in mediation and negotiations has surpassed New York City?

      I feel a bit of disgust coming from you and David and others with your views for the employees of law enforcement.   It reminds me of what I see at a national level related to our working class population.  Am I wrong?  Seems pretty tribal to me.  Disgust is possibly one of the most destructive impulses.  Read Haidt on it.  It might be something to work on.  Stick with irritation, IMO.  I embrace it!

      I tend to feel more empathy for the cops given the job they are required to do, and more empathy for the working class as they are being left behind by our bonehead pursuit of a global new order with crappy schools and uncontrolled immigration.  Ironically the latter also causes more difficulty for the cops.

      A relative that is a hiring manager for the Benicia PD says they cannot attract nor retain enough qualified officers.

      By the way… those cops that are highly sensing will have to turn it off if they wish to be effective in their jobs.

      1. Howard P

        Basic tenet of survival:  “prepare for the worst, expect the best”… in that order

        Found that to be very useful in life… but BOTH are critical

        1. Tia Will

          Howard

          I have managed to “survive” & some might say thrive for 66 years by “expecting the best while preparing for the worst” in that order. But agree that both are critical.

  6. John Hobbs

    “I really think you are out of touch with the requirements of the law enforcement job.  I get the impression that you would rather see a police force of Birkenstock-wearing, clipboard-carrying counselors employing careful speech to influence people out of their bad behavior.”

    I don’t care behind if they wear Birks, but it would be good to have intelligent articulate police officers who possess the personality and skills to talk to people in a non-threatening manner.

    “Did you know that there are actually a lot of people out there with interests to rob, rape and kill? ”

    Actually, there are blessedly few.

    Whatever you perceive as “disgust” from me and David is respect for the actual laws.  What I hear from you and your spiritual leader is self serving crap.

     

    1. Howard P

      Actually, there are blessedly few.

      %-age wise yes… absolute numbers, not so much.

      And the accused in the East Area Rapist case, sure appears to have had an interest in raping and killing, and if the accused did the things they have accused him of, he was also a “cop”… an out-lier to be sure…

      I have no definitive answer… I strongly doubt anyone has…

       

  7. David Greenwald Post author

    This is one area where I think policing needs to change. The mindset is often that you mitigate threats by shooting first and asking questions later. In a free society, shooting must always be the last resort even if it means that sometimes you don’t catch the suspect, and sometimes you lose your life. That is the price we pay for living in a free society not a tyranny. To do anything less means that you undermine the legitimacy of law and lead to a questioning of the intentions of the police to the point where in many communities people are reluctant to call the police at all.

    1. Howard P

      You perhaps misunderstand my words about “expect the worst”… one doesn’t need to shoot first… but they must be prepared to do so… if they are prepared, mentally, they (except cowards or fools) have he opportunity to restrain their potential action, and confident in their worst case option, they can fully pursue their “best case” option.

      An officer who “leads with his heart”, often doesn’t live to tell about it.  Doesn’t mean you have to “shoot first, ask questions later”.  Nuance.

  8. Tia Will

    Many of us see the police as having a uniquely dangerous, and often heroic job. I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of our police to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe and that we can go about our legitimate business free of fear. However, I also think that we sometimes dramatize their jobs in terms of the risks actually incurred as opposed to the risks accepted by other types of workers.

    https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf

  9. Tia Will

    Jeff

    I tend to feel more empathy for the cops given the job they are required to do,”

    By the way… those cops that are highly sensing will have to turn it off if they wish to be effective in their jobs.”

    It is also frequently said that police have to take a tough stance because they are exposed to the worst that society has to offer. I would state that there are other professions that are regularly exposed to the same conditions: home health care workers, social service workers, first responders who see the same conditions on a regular basis and yet are not expected as part of their job to turn off their “high sensing”. Neither are ER medical professionals and staff. I simply do not believe that anyone has to turn off what makes us most human, our feelings, in order to accomplish our jobs effectively.

    It is of interest to me that we have come to encourage police to act on an emotion: “fear for their lives” regardless of whether there is any rational basis for that fear, but yet feel that as far as any emotion involving caring for “the other”, some seem to feel it has no place in policing.

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