Police to interview eyewitness to stabbing, shooting incident, more details released

BY DI STAFF | JULY 27, 2009 4:50 PM

Iowa City police plan to interview one eye-witness who has voiced a different account than law enforcement about Friday night’s stabbing and shooting incident.

In a Monday afternoon news release, police said Johnson County Deputy Terry Stotler, 45, shot 26-year-old John Deng, who had stabbed a bar patron near Hawkeye Hideaway, 310 E. Prentiss St., after an exchange turned violent.

The investigation continues, but local authorities noted Stotler, who was in plain-clothes, displayed his badge and identified himself as law enforcement when he became involved in the altercation.

Mike Tibbitts, the witness police said they planned to interview Monday, disputed this point in local media.

Toxicology and final autopsy reports for Deng, a homeless man who had numerous run-ins with local law enforcement in the past two years, could be available in six weeks.

Police said the following occurred on July 24:

Starting at 7:17 p.m., Iowa City police received a report of a “fight” on the 300 block of E. Prentiss Street near downtown Iowa City.

John Bohnenkamp, n Iowa City resident and electrician at the UI, approached Deng after he saw the man drop some bottles, which had spilled debris across a nearby parking lot.

The confrontation became physical, and Deng stabbed Bohnenkamp in the torso — behind the 63-year-old’s left arm.

Stotler, who was in civilian clothing and patrolling on civilian duty, was driving by when he saw the fight. After notifying his dispatcher, he stopped, displayed his badge, and commanded both participants to stop fighting.

Deng was holding a knife and yelling threats at the man he had allegedly stabbed. Against Stotler’s commands, he advanced toward the already-injured Bohnenkamp, still holding the knife in a “threatening manner.”

Stotler believed Deng was about to stab Bohnenkamp again. He fired a single shot, striking Deng in the left side.

Both men were taken to the UI Hospitals and Clinics, where Bohnenkemp underwent emergency surgery. He was released the following day.

Deng died of the gunshot wound. Since 2007, he has  pleaded guilty to charges such as first-offense OWI, disorderly conduct for fighting, criminal trespass, fifth-degree theft, and a noise complaint.

The Iowa City Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are investigating the incident. Officials at the Johnson County Medical Examiner’s office are also working to locate and identify Deng’s family.

Police said in the past, Deng had listed an acquaintance living in Texas. He was carrying Texas identification Friday night.

Searches in at least two dozen Texas counties’ courts websites returned no criminal records with Deng’s name.

Stotler, who had worked for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years, was placed on paid administrative leave. Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said this is “standard practice” whenever officers are involved in shootings.

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