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San Jose police Sgt. Fredrick Kotto

A San Jose police sergeant will ride into the sunset on a high note after thwarting a robbery on a BART train on his way to getting his marriage license earlier this month. The off-duty arrest is likely the last in a long career.

Sgt. Fredrick Kotto and his fiancee, Stanka Vuckovic, were on a San Francisco-bound train from Dublin the morning of Feb. 11 when they heard a commotion behind them and saw a woman yelling that someone had just taken her purse.

The suspect, later identified as 31-year-old Oakland resident Jennifer Davis, found herself standing on top of a seat and surrounded by passengers, and tried to push her way through, police said. One of the passengers unsuccessfully tried to use a stun gun on Davis.

Kotto got in Davis' path and showed his badge and gun, and ordered her to the ground. When she was reportedly less than receptive, he grabbed her left arm and brought her to the ground. She continued to reportedly struggle, and after briefly applying more pressure, Kotto tried a different tack to get her to eventually relent.

"I said, 'Calm down, we're going to get through this. It's going to be all right,'" Kotto said in a Friday news conference.

BART police officers entered the train at the West Oakland stop and took Davis into custody. She has since been charged with robbery and had her probation revoked.

"The whole train got up and cheered for us," Kotto said. "It was really nice."

But the soon-to-be wedded couple still had places to go. Kotto asked if he could delay giving his statement to officers so that he could get to his marriage-license appointment in San Francisco. The officers let him go, and he made it in the nick of time.

"We made it to our appointment with four minutes to spare," Kotto said.

Thinking back to that day, Kotto remembered his fiancee initially urging him against getting involved and thinking the same thing. But his sense of duty ruled the day.

"I tried to size up all my alternatives," he said. "It seemed to me a calculated risk worth taking."

The 17-year San Jose police veteran and distinguished boxer -- who is the son of actor Yaphet Kotto is strongly considering retirement after multiple knee surgeries in the course of duty. He has served on the special-enforcement METRO unit and currently works in internal affairs.

"This is most likely my last physical arrest," Kotto said. "It's a nice way to go out."

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.




San Jose police Sgt. Fredrick Kotto, left, and suspect Jennifer Davis.
San Jose police Sgt. Fredrick Kotto, left, and suspect Jennifer Davis.