SAN JOSE -- For their daughter's entire life, Jim and Victoria Showman labored tirelessly to help with her severe bipolar disorder. The work went right up until the final minutes.
Jim Showman's last words to 19-year-old Diana came Aug. 14 in an early-morning phone call: He reminded her to take her psychiatric medication.
The same morning, Victoria Showman was talking with the intake director at San Andreas Regional Center in hopes of enrolling her daughter for services aimed at helping developmentally disabled people live independently. She needed a document from her husband, and he took a break from his job as a systems engineer to go back to the Blossom Hill Road duplex where his daughter lived with him.
His path was blocked by police cars. What he didn't know until hours later was that Diana was mortally wounded by a police officer during a confrontation on busy Blossom Hill Road. As the Showmans struggle with her death, they are also questioning whether the shooting was necessary, and why police wouldn't let them be by her side in her final moments.
Jim Showman was whisked away to San Jose police headquarters and led to an interview room. Victoria soon followed. Police refused to tell them what happened to Diana.
"I told them, 'What you're doing is cruel. We don't know if our daughter's alive,' " Jim Showman said in an interview with this newspaper.
He got to the shooting scene at 10:30 a.m. Diana Showman was pronounced dead about 12:30 p.m.
Her parents would not find out for another hour.
"This was wrong, not (being) able to see our daughter in her dying minutes," Victoria Showman said.
Police are sympathetic to their plight, but contend that investigative protocols would have prevented the parents from being at Diana Showman's bedside even if they had gone directly to the hospital. A spokeswoman said the wounded woman's room became part of the crime scene, and had to be secured.
"Once it's determined that someone has life-threatening injuries or might die, the room is sealed," Sgt. Heather Randol said. "We know this is a horrible situation for the family. But it's important we preserve the integrity of the investigation and follow these procedures."
But for Jim and Victoria Showman, who broke their silence Tuesday, it compounded the pain of spending nearly two decades watching their daughter struggle with her affliction, then reach the cusp of a once-unimaginable independent adulthood just as her life ended.
"The way this was handled was not the right way in dealing with a family who lost a child," said Steven Clark, a well-known local attorney representing the Showman family.
Diana Showman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was just five years old, the Showmans said. While struggling privately and having to cope with an ever-changing array of medications -- up to eight at the time of her death -- she thrived in school, they said, playing softball and graduating from Leigh High School last year.
On the morning she died, Diana Showman called 911 and reportedly told emergency dispatchers she had an Uzi and was going to shoot her family. But nobody else was home.
According to police and witnesses -- some of whom captured the encounter on cellphone video -- Showman emerged from her home with an item in each hand, and at some point dropped one of the items on a grassy berm. But she kept a large black item -- later revealed to be a black-painted cordless drill -- in one hand and continued toward the officers, defying their orders to drop it. As she got close to Officer Wakana Okuma, the officer fired a single shot.
As it happens, Okuma, a 13-year department veteran, was one of a battery of SJPD officers who had undergone what is known as Crisis Intervention Team training, which focuses on mental-health response.
It's a tough situation for everyone involved, local mental-health experts said, trying to balance a potential threat and assessing whether it's legitimate or a mental-health crisis, perhaps both.
The grieving parents are convinced that she was never a threat.
"Part of her disability is she had poor impulse control and didn't always understand the consequences of her actions," her mother said.
Jim Showman also dismissed the notion that his daughter's death was a "suicide by cop" scenario.
"When I saw the video, she was not committing suicide. She was looking for attention," he said.
That the video, widely viewed online, and the cordless drill have become the lasting symbols of what happened that day is something the Showmans -- Diana's mother, father and two brothers -- want to change. To them, her bipolar disorder and the shooting should be a footnote in the memory of the vibrant, fearless and athletic woman they memorialized Friday with nearly 300 family and friends.
They'll remember the Diana Showman who was an ace baseball player, occupying third base in Little League and later women's softball, both as a teen and adult. They'll think about how she reveled in working for several years with special-needs children.
"She put herself out there in so many ways. She was a delight," Victoria Showman said. "She was our baby and we loved her. We miss her every day."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.