News


Editorial: Pleasanton Police Department's unwarranted silence unacceptable

 

It has been almost three months since 19-year-old San Jose resident John Deming Jr. was shot and killed by Pleasanton Police Officer Daniel Kunkel outside an auto dealership in Pleasanton.

And for almost three months we have been asking for answers, and we are frustrated with the police department's unwarranted and continued silence.

According to the Pleasanton Police Department, Deming broke into the dealership and was acting erratically, and then was shot and killed while assaulting Officer Kunkel in the early-morning hours July 5. The family's attorneys contest the department's version of events based on alleged inconsistencies in the department's statements.

The Deming family's law firm, Los Angeles-based Geragos & Geragos, cites a statement made to Pleasanton Weekly reporter Meredith Bauer by Pleasanton Police Lt. Jeff Bretzing as one of those inconsistencies. After a press conference July 7, Bauer asked Bretzing if Kunkel was wearing a body camera, and Bretzing said Kunkel was not.

The San Jose Mercury News published an online article the same day that stated: "Bretzing would not say whether Kunkel was wearing a camera. 'All are (sic) officers are issued body cameras,' (Bretzing) said. 'I believe all officers on the scene, including Officer Kunkel, should have been wearing their body cameras.'"

After seeing the Mercury News' account, our reporter contacted Bretzing to get clarification, and was met with a response that the PPD would not answer any questions about the officer-involved shooting until the Alameda County District Attorney's investigation is released. According to DA's Office spokesperson Teresa Drenick, there is "no timeline for its completion."

We have made several attempts to obtain a definitive statement from the Pleasanton police and the city attorney as to whether Kunkel was wearing an operating body camera at the time of the shooting.

City Attorney Jonathan Lowell told the Weekly, "Now that a claim has been filed, I have directed city personnel not to comment because this is a pending litigation matter, and the proper place for it to be adjudicated is in the courtroom."

Pleasanton Police Chief David Spiller said, "It would be inappropriate and unfair to all parties for me to comment on this matter before the pending investigations have been completed. When the District Attorney finishes the investigation and releases the independent report, most of your questions should be answered."

Lowell and Spiller miss the fact that the public has a right to know the basic facts of the incident, regardless of whether a civil lawsuit has been filed by the family. The department provided two conflicting answers to reporters' questions about whether Officer Kunkel was wearing an operating body camera immediately after the shooting. They now have the responsibility and obligation to correct the record.

Just as the department released a summary of what it believes occurred between Deming and Kunkel that night, there is no justification for failing to make a clear statement about the body camera, and whether video evidence may be available to shed greater light on the actions of John Deming Jr. and Officer Daniel Kunkel.

Pleasanton Weekly staff.

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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by Roy
a resident of Ponderosa
on Oct 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

I wish the weekly was half as interested in finding out more about how the young man got to Pleasanton, where his car is or was, who was with him, where was he before he got here. Once again the press is trying to prove the police wrong without investigating the facts for yourself. The body camera is merely a small piece of the puzzle, but the press likes to kick the cops. Anyone who watches high profile trials knows Garregos game is to cast doubt on everyone but his client prior to trial.

Lets work on getting both sides not just worry about a body camera. That facts will come out. The other questions I asked seem to be ignored. The problem is from moment one the response from the police should have been no comment.


30 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 9:34 am

Thank you PPD for your excellent service!!
What's up PW? Are you on Geragos & Geragos payroll now!?


4 people like this
Posted by Just Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 10:23 am

Here is the 911 call posted by the San Jose Mercury News. One officer can be heard saying "I am turning off my camera now" Lets stick to the facts. Also you can hear officers caring for officer Kunzel .


Web Link



11 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 11:45 am

"The problem is from moment one the response from the police should have been no comment."

So the police screwed up from "moment one"? Doesn't look good. You can "support" them all you want. I prefer to stick to the facts.


15 people like this
Posted by DJohns
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

Thanks to the PW staff for clarifying that you share the same frustration many of us feel, as well as a determination to provide the public with answers. I have felt that PW coverage has been biased in favor of the PPD, so it is ironic that this explanation receives accusations of being in the Garregos camp.

The audio is the only credible fact that is currently available to the public; it gives a lot of insight to what went wrong in responding to a unarmed disturbed individual. It also creates a lot of questions.

The police statement is one side of the story, but without that video that officer Kunkel was supposed to be wearing we have no proof of what happened after Deming was chased out of the window.

PPD is a good department. I would like answers, but more I would like to hear from PPD what will be different in the future.


3 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Oct 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm

@DJohns: "I have felt that PW coverage has been biased in favor of the PPD, so it is ironic that this explanation receives accusations of being in the Garregos camp."

Nope, you missed the irony. The irony is that this publication that this is the same publication that was lambasted by Geragos & Geragos for being a "so-called newspaper" and a "journalistic disgrace" and being involved in a "police coverup".


9 people like this
Posted by george
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Seems like the PW is tired of going after PUSD re Vranesh and has now set its eyes on the PPD. Maybe Vranesh will hire Geragos so the PW has all of its matters with one law firm!


8 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Respectfully disagree with the op-ed.

I applaud the PW for pressing for data; at the same time I appreciate the PPD's desire to to a thorough job at getting any and all information out to the public.

The PPD and Alameda County D.A's office will release all information at one time. This is the wise thing to do, although it is frustrating to anybody looking for quick answers. It would be a mistake for the PPD to release partial, or unverified information -- that would only increase the frustration of the public, and most likely raise more questions than it would answer. It's far better to get all the facts together into one place than to hurry and risk misinforming everybody.

Regarding partial information, the PW also ran an op-ed which effectively criticized the Geregos law firm for doing the same. The PW's publisher found fault with the "piecemeal manner" in which Geregos has released information to the public. According to the PW, the family with Geregos paid for a private toxicology report and an autopsy, but released only the toxicology report.

Of course, the objectives of the PPD and the Geregos law firm are different...the PPD is interested in getting a full accounting of everything onto the table (albeit on their own timetable), while Geregos is interested in trying the case in the court of public opinion as quickly as possible.

I'll try to remain patient and wait for the full report, thank you.


15 people like this
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 2, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Registered Joe says: "...although it is frustrating to anybody looking for quick answers..."

Quick answers? Its been 3 full months since this incident!

Please don't tell me that this crime scene was so complicated that it takes 3 months (so far) to investigate. This is complete and utter bull.

Bureaucratic nonsense with an added dash of legalism from our local government agencies all trying to cover themselves. <---not to be confused with covering up.

And let's not forget that the PW editorial from Gina is spot-on wrt to the obvious differences in what is being communicated to different papers. If anything, PW (and Gina) have remained pretty independent in their reporting.

I'm trying to remain open-minded on this incident but the reporting from PW, added with the recent communications made by the local government is making it very difficult for me to remain so.

By the way, where the heck is the Mayor on all this??

Sincerely.



6 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 6:46 pm

It really depends on what your objective is.

If you're out to slam the PPD or police in general, then call the process too slow because it's an obvious cover-up.

If you're out for a financial settlement from the City, then release snippets of information, regardless of correctness, to sway the public's mind.

If you're out to report on facts of the situation, then take your time and make sure there is nothing missing, because you sure won't get a second chance.

Any other possible objectives that I'm missing?


9 people like this
Posted by Norma Stitz
a resident of Verona
on Oct 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Dan from BC,

How long did it take you to process the last homicide scene that you worked?

And WTH does the mayor have to do with this? I doubt he knows any more than the rest of us. He's doing exactly what he should be doing... Letting those with the training and experience do their job.


5 people like this
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 3, 2015 at 8:25 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Norma,

I'll bite: tell me how long it takes.

I'm STILL sitting on the sidelines but I would like to understand the specifics such as:

1. Why has this process taken over three months (and running) to complete?
2. What are the steps needed to conclude the process.

Until these questions are answered with more detail than 'we're waiting for the investigation to complete', then I will continue to question the process.

Don't like it? Tough.

Dan




4 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 3, 2015 at 10:06 am

The Warren Commission only took 8 months.


2 people like this
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Jerry,

I think it was closer to 10 months give or take, but your point is well taken.


7 people like this
Posted by Norma Stitz
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 3, 2015 at 1:32 pm

yeah, the warren commission did such an outstanding job (with basically unlimited resources). excellent example.


Like this comment
Posted by Formerly Dan from BC
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Norma,

Your sarcasm is noted, however I don't remember the police or DA complaining about shortage of funds as to the reason for the length of time for their investigation in this instance.

Nice try.


9 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2015 at 11:34 pm

I would guess the defendants (city & police) will not be chattering away. All will come out in the courtroom. Geragos, et all keep teasing with what they know are falsehoods, I.e. 'The child' etc. to get bites. 4th July night,2AM 5th, there were probably still partiers out who had not been to bed. He was a long way from his San Jose home, however. Did he hitch-hike to a sleepy street in Pleasanton a 2 am? They'll likely be creating quite a story... skidding the floor with spins. Geragos is good at turning up 'witnesses' however, to be able to win big settlement payoffs for himself.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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