Details emerge in Pleasanton police shooting
A Pleasanton police officer shot and killed a burglary suspect early Sunday morning after the suspect allegedly knocked the officer onto the ground and continued punching him in the head despite being Tased twice and shot once already, police said Tuesday.
Officer Daniel Kunkel shot 19-year-old John Deming Jr. twice more, once in the face, to finally stop the attack, according to police.
The Police Department issued the new information Tuesday after Mark Geragos, a high-profile attorney retained by the family, issued a statement saying he had “grave concerns” about the police practices that led to the shooting. Geragos said Deming was the son of a police officer and had no criminal history.
Police said they found Deming just after 2 a.m. when responding to a burglary alarm at Specialty Sales Classics, a car dealership at 4321 First St.
Initially police said Deming was found in front of the business, but clarified Tuesday he was still inside but could be seen through the dealership’s large front windows.
Deming allegedly threw a 50-pound floor jack through the window, which landed on the sidewalk near the officers. Police fired at him with a beanbag round but missed, and Deming refused commands to leave the dealership, police said.
He jumped on the tops of cars screaming and then ran to another section of the dealership, out of sight of the officers, police said.
The officers went in after him with a dog and found him sitting on a car in the main showroom area. He ran and the officers released the dog after him, but he jumped through a broken window, police said.
Kunkel was standing watch in the back of the business and saw Deming jump through the broken window. Kunkel ordered him to stop but Deming kept running, and Kunkel hit him in the back with a Taser, according to police.
The Taser didn’t stop Deming, and Kunkel started to chase him until Deming turned and charged Kunkel aggressively, police said.
Deming allegedly kicked Kunkel in the stomach and punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground. Deming got on top of Kunkel, pummeling his head as he lay on the concrete, police said.
Kunkel thought he might lose consciousness and used his Taser again, but again it had no effect, so he drew his pistol and shot Deming once in the torso. However, even that didn’t stop Deming and he continued his attack, police said.
Kunkel then fired two more rounds, hitting Deming at least once in the face, police said.
Other officers ran toward the gunfire and found Kunkel unresponsive and Deming on the ground next to him bleeding. Deming still resisted the other officers as they tried to handcuff him, according to police.
Both Deming and Kunkel were taken to hospitals. Deming died at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley a short time later. Kunkel was taken to Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton and was released later that day.
Kunkel remains on paid administrative leave during the investigation into the shooting. According to police, surveillance footage in and around the dealership corroborates the account.
In a statement Tuesday on behalf of the family, Geragos said Deming’s mother and father have been dismayed by their treatment by Pleasanton police since the shooting.
According to Geragos, after the shooting, police searched Deming’s mother’s home for evidence. Without informing Linda Deming of her son’s death, they handcuffed her in her backyard at gunpoint, searched the residence and seized electronic devices.
When she asked where her son was, they told her simply, “He is with the sheriff’s department,” according to Geragos.
Deming had recently graduated from Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, where he was a football player. He was an aspiring musician and active churchgoer who had never been arrested, according to Geragos.
His father, Oakdale reserve police Officer John Deming Sr., said in a statement:
“My son Johnathon has always been a kind, loving, well-mannered and talented young man who respected others, loved music and had a boundless thirst for life. … Johnathon was fun, helpful and outgoing, he always did the right thing. He valued his friends and family and put others first. I will miss him every moment of every day.”
The family has retained Geragos, an attorney based in Southern California who has represented clients such as Chris Brown and Michael Jackson, “to guide the family and ascertain the truth of how and why John was killed,” according to the attorney’s statement.
In addition to the police investigation, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is looking into the shooting.