PLEASANTON -- The family of a San Jose teenager who was shot dead by a police officer in an incident last summer filed a federal lawsuit against the Pleasanton Police Department on Monday.
John Deming Jr. was killed in July inside a custom auto dealership by Officer Daniel Kunkel.
Police characterized Deming as the aggressor, and alleges he threw a floor jack through a window, smashed an acoustic guitar, and resisted bean bag deployments and Taser strikes.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Deming's family have said it was the police department that was in the wrong when they escalated a confrontation with someone clearly having mental health issues.
"John Jr. stated to officers he was unarmed and came in peace," attorney Ben Meiselas wrote in the complaint. "Despite this fact, 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," Meiselas added.
The lawsuit also accuses the police department of changing its story after the fact, and questions why Kunkel didn't turn on his body camera.
Lt. Jeffrey Bretzing, a spokesman for the police department, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the complaint, Deming was traveling from his mother's home in San Jose to his father's house in Oakdale on the evening of the incident.
He was "grappling with emotional issues," related to leaving his music career, the complaint stated.
Deming was shot when trying to flee the dealership. Meiselas, an attorney for the law offices of Mark Geragos, has questioned the police narrative that Kunkel shot Deming because Deming was savagely beating him.
"There is no offensive bruising on John Jr.'s hands or body which directly contradicts Officer Kunkel's version of events that John Jr. was the aggressor," Meiselas wrote in the complaint.
A toxicology report found that there were no drugs or alcohol in Deming's body.
Kunkel was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
Contact Dan Lawton at 408-921-8695. Follow him at Twitter.com/dlawton