The family of a teen shot and killed by police last July has filed a Wrongful Death Civil Rights lawsuit against the Pleasanton Police Department. John Deming Sr., a 10-year veteran police reserve officer with the Oakdale Police Department, is the father of the 19-year-old, John “Bubba” Deming Jr., and a plaintiff in the action.
On July 15, Pleasanton officers responded to a burglar alarm at a classic car dealership. When officers arrived they reported seeing Deming Jr. inside the business through the dealership’s windows. Officers ordered Deming to exit the building and he reportedly threw a large floor jack through one window, which landed on the sidewalk near the officers. Police characterized Deming as out of control and said he resisted bean bag deployments and Taser strikes.
Officer Daniel Kunkel, an eight-year police veteran who had worked for Pleasanton Police for just over a year at the time, was at the rear of the business and ordered Deming to stop as he exited. Upon his refusal, Officer Kunkel deployed his Taser, hitting Deming in the back. After a pursuit and physical battle when he tried to take Deming Jr. into custody, Officer Kunkel ended up having to use deadly force and drew his pistol and fired one round into Deming’s torso area. Deming Jr. continued to strike Officer Kunkel, who then fired two additional rounds.
The federal complaint filed April 4 states “The Pleasanton Police department, which lacked any training in de-escalation protocols on dealing with individuals with mental health issues, decided to shoot at the unarmed John Jr. with Tasers and beanbag guns.”
Family attorney Ben Meiselas, an attorney for the law offices of Mark Geragos in Southern California, wrote in the complaint: “Officer Kunkel was previously relieved of his duties with the Antioch Police Department after filing a lawsuit against that Department for ‘emotional distress,’ which was still pending when he made the transfer to the Pleasanton Police Department in March 2014.”
Meiselas also accuses the department of changing its account of the incident after the fact, and questions why Kunkel didn’t turn on his body camera.
Deming Sr. previously reported that his son was traveling from his mother’s home in San Jose to his house in Oakdale on the evening of the incident. A toxicology report found that there were no drugs or alcohol in Deming’s system.
Last February, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Officer cleared Officer Kunkel of any criminal wrongdoing.