By Gina Channell Wilcox
It's our responsibility to report, not make assumptionsUploaded: Feb 17, 2016
There are a few links on the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com Town Square forums to reports on other sites concerning the official autopsy on John Deming Jr., who was shot and killed in July by Pleasanton Police Department Office Daniel Kunkel.
I received a copy of the official Alameda County Coroner's Bureau autopsy and toxicology report in January, much to the dismay of the DA's office. The DA spokesperson, Teresa Drenick, said it was not supposed to be released until the investigation is complete, and there is still no timeline on that.
The document is linked in the story.
It confirmed the findings that Deming had no drugs in his system, as was reported in a press release from the family's attorneys in September. We were denied access to the actual autopsy and toxicology report. Because we couldn't confirm anything, we didn't run the press release.
We felt it was irresponsible to put out information that came to us in the form of a vitriolic press release, especially when the law firm said we couldn't see the report.
The county autopsy, which was completed in December as part of the investigation, mentions "maroon contusions...." on Deming's legs and back that the reporter, Meredith Bauer, and I thought may or may not be taser marks or bruising made by bean bags. (pages 14-16)
Page 16 states, "There is no deposition of smoke or powder or evidence of burning," which Meredith and I thought was odd for a "close range shot" as Pleasanton Police Department spokesperson had claimed.
However, while Meredith and I can speculate all we want, we are not qualified to say whether those maroon contusions were consistent with marks left by a taser or bean bag, and we are certainly not qualified to say that lack of burning, smoke or powder near the wound means it was "not at close range." Neither of us has attended medical school.
We tried to find a credible source to tell us if the contusions were consistent with taser and / or bean bag marks and to define "close range?" My question was how close does someone have to be to leave powder, smoke or burning? Two inches? Two feet? What constitutes "close range?"
Meredith even tried to track down the person who signed off on the autopsy. Nobody from the Coroner's Bureau would confirm anything at the time we broke the story, citing the ongoing investigation.
It is not our place, and we feel it is not responsible, to report something like "he was not shot at close range as previously suggested by police" because we are not qualified to determine that.
Meredith is continuing to pursue the story while covering her other beats.