Police release names of officer; shooting and stabbing victims

BY ABE TEKIPPE | JULY 28, 2009 7:07 AM

Iowa City police officials said that while the investigation into a July 24 stabbing and shooting is in its early stages, they were able to release additional information about the incident Monday afternoon.

In the update, officials acknowledged that two men have have been quoted in the media with accounts of the shooting that differ from those police received from other witnesses. But Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay noted in the three days following the incident, the men never approached authorities with their stories.

Kelsay said though one of the men, Mike Tibbitts, was “reluctant” to talk to investigators, authorities set up an interview at a location of his choosing Monday.

But he never showed up.

Tibbitts and the other man, Brock Brones, were subpoenaed Monday to give their statements, Kelsay confirmed.

“[They] made themselves part of this case,” he said. “If they have something significant to add to the account, they need to do so immediately.”

Based on the investigation, officials described the July 24 incident as follows:

John Bohnenkamp, a 63-year-old resident of Iowa City and a UI employee, left the Hawkeye Hideaway, 310 E. Prentiss St., with his wife around 7 p.m.

They encountered John Deng, a 26-year-old homeless man, who was carrying a bunch of bottles, some of which broke in a nearby parking lot. The broken bottles apparently prompted Bohnenkamp to enter into a verbal exchange with Deng.

As the encounter escalated into a physical altercation, on-duty Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Stotler, a 24-year veteran of the department, came across the scene. He notified his dispatcher and stopped to break up the fight. The dispatcher contacted Iowa City police as Iowa City dispatchers were receiving numerous 911 calls, some of which reported a man with a gun.

Stotler, who currently works in the Civil Division, was dressed in plainclothes at the time, typical attire for civil deputies.

Tibbitts and Brones have disputed what happened next. They alleged Stotler didn’t identify himself.
But according to police, Stotler displayed a badge and identified himself verbally, commanding the men to stop fighting.

From approximately 15 feet away, Stotler saw fresh blood and saw Deng holding a knife while yelling threats at the injured Bohnenkamp, Kelsay told the DI. After drawing his sidearm, Stotler repeatedly ordered Deng to drop the knife.

Deng ignored the command and moved toward Bohnenkamp while holding the knife in a “threatening manner.” At that point, Stotler apparently perceived Deng was going to stab Bohnenkamp again.

The deputy fired a single round that struck Deng in the left side.

Both men were transported to the UI Hospitals and Clinics, where Kelsay said Deng was pronounced dead. A final autopsy report is pending toxicology results, which could take up to six weeks to process.

Bohnenkamp, who declined to comment on the incident, underwent emergency surgery and was released from the hospital July 25. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Authorities were able to gather evidence in spite of torrential rains, Kelsay said, including a knife near Deng’s body.

While witnesses who came forward saw the incident unfold from different angles and times, they recounted the same basic facts with only “minor” differences.

Kelsay mentioned one discrepancy: whether Deng advanced toward Bohnenkamp or Stotler with the knife.

Authorities are still looking for more information on Deng and are attempting to locate family members or acquaintances.

Crissy Canganelli, the director of Shelter House, 331 N. Gilbert St., said Deng, who last lived as a resident at the shelter in February, was a refugee from Sudan. Since February, he had been receiving case management services and working toward citizenship, she said.

Canganelli said that while she was not defending Deng’s alleged actions, his lack of address “does not describe his character or who he was as a person.”

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek refused to discuss the incident in detail until Iowa City police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation have completed their investigations, but he did confirm Stotler was placed on paid administrative leave.

The move is standard procedure whenever officers are involved in fatal shootings, Pulkrabek said.

It has been at least five years since a Johnson County deputy fired her or his weapon at a suspect, he said.

Officials from the DCI and FBI said state and national statistics on the number of times law-enforcement officers have fired their weapons at suspects are not available.

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