Parents of Mentally Unstable Woman Killed by San Jose Police Criticize Report Clearing Officer

Parents of a mentally unstable teenager shot and killed by a San Jose police officer say a report by the District Attorney’s office, clearing the officer, ignores evidence that the encounter unnecessarily turned deadly.

On the morning of Aug. 12, 2014, 19-year-old Diana Showman called 911 and told the operator she had an “uzi” and was going to shoot her mother and brother if police did not respond to her home, according to the DA’s report. In a phone call that lasted more than 20 minutes, Showman reportedly told the dispatch operator that her family members were locked in one of the home’s rooms.

In fact, Showman was alone in the house and had no gun.

Police officers arrived at the Blossom Hill Road home and ordered Showman to come out and surrender. She was seen on witness video of the incident holding a large black object that police believed was a gun, but actually was a spray-painted power drill. While officers, guns drawn, ordered her to drop the object, Showman walked back and forth in a “catatonic” state while at times raising the drill and pointing it at officers. She also held a cell phone in her other hand but dropped it at some point.

San Jose police Officer Wakana Okuma, who had training to deal with people suffering from mental health issues, took the lead in instructing Showman to drop the weapon. After walking back and forth several times, Showman reportedly approached Okuma and raised the drill to point it at the officer. Okuma yelled, “Stop it. Stop it right there,” before firing one fatal round from her AR-15 rifle into Showman’s chest. Showman was pronounced dead at a hospital less than two hours after making the 911 call.

The DA’s report concludes that Officer Okuma did not know the object was a drill and she had a reasonable fear for her life when she fired her weapon. Okuma reportedly told investigators that due to the urgency of the situation, she felt her Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) did not come into play.

Jim and Vickie Showman, Diana’s parents, emphatically disagreed with that conclusion in a phone interview Thursday.

“Okuma felt that the CIT training had no effect in this case, when in fact this is like a perfect case,” Jim Showman said.

Vickie Showman added, “It shows me the CIT training should be mandatory and ongoing, because law enforcement officers are inevitably going to encounter citizens in mental health crisis.”

This illustration lays out the scene of the shooting.

This illustration lays out the scene of the shooting.

The DA’s report begins by recounting prior incidents the document Diana Showman’s mental instability. She tried to commit suicide multiple times, according to the report, and she also had violent encounters with family, which led her to stay at the Blossom Hill Road home of her father.

But the amount of time between the 911 call and when officers arrived at the home is a point of contention that the situation could have been handled differently, according to Steve Clark, the family’s attorney.

“When you reverse engineer this shooting, we never knew there was a 20-plus minute conversation by the dispatch with Diana,” Clark said. “We don’t see this as Officer Okuma describes as a rapid-fire, split-second situation.

“We see this as exactly the situation that needs to be diffused when you have a mental health crisis.”

Three of four civilian witnesses interviewed by the DA said they thought the drill was a gun, while the fourth said he thought it looked like a drill but wasn't sure.

This is the drill Diana Showman held when she was shot. (Photo via DA report)

This is the drill Diana Showman held when she was shot. (Photo via DA report)

The Showmans told San Jose Inside that police repeatedly kept them in the dark the day of the shooting. Neither were at the scene of the incident, but both were taken in for questioning and had their cell phones confiscated during this time. Jim Showman called the police treatment "cruel," saying officers failed to inform him his daughter had been pronounced dead for an extended period of time.

“It was horrible and insensitive,” said Clark, the family's attorney. “There has to be better ways to interact with parents who are going through a crisis like this.”

The immediate handling of the crime scene also raises an issue.

The DA’s report notes that an officer kicked the drill away from Showman after she was shot and incapacitated. Officer Okuma then retrieved the drill and placed it in her patrol car, which was an unnecessary step in altering the crime scene, according to the SJPD Duty Manual. Sgt. James Mason confronted Okuma about where the drill went and retrieved it from her squad car before placing it back where he believed it had been kicked following the shooting.

The DA’s report does not follow up on why this occurred.

In addition to the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the Showmans also were outraged to learn that Okuma was sent by SJPD to represent the department at the funeral for two New York City police officers slain in the line of duty late last year. The Showmans considered the trip to be a kind of reward, just months after the officer shot and killed their daughter.

“It’s certainly insensitive, and it spoke volumes to us,” Jim Showman said.

San Jose police officer Wakana Okuma, right, poses with an image of slain New York City officer Wenjian Liu at a funeral in January. SJPD Chief Larry Esquivel posted the image to his Twitter account. (Photo via Twitter)

San Jose police Officer Wakana Okuma, right, poses with an image of slain New York City officer Wenjian Liu at a funeral in January. SJPD Chief Larry Esquivel posted the image to his Twitter account. (Photo via Twitter)

Sgt. Albert Morales, a public information officer for SJPD, said that Okuma serves on the department’s Honor Guard, which consists of about a dozen officers who attend funerals for fallen officers across the country. Okuma was one of three officers who volunteered to attend the NYC funerals, Morales said.

Jim and Vickie Showman say they will continue to push for “a truly independent civilian panel” to review officer-involved shootings. They support recent efforts by State Sen. Jim Beall, who has legislation moving forward that would require mandatory and ongoing crisis intervention training for state law enforcement.

“We want to support additional training for law enforcement so that other families don’t have to go through this,” Vickie Showman said.

The District Attorney's office began publishing public reports on all officer-involved shootings in Santa Clara County in 2011. To date, no officer has been charged with a crime for firing their weapon.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

25 Comments

  1. Jim and Vickie Showman are no doubt devastated by the death of their young, troubled daughter, but their attempt to scapegoat Officer Okuma must be based on emotion alone (and hopefully not simply the desire for a payday). Their daughter’s actions, both prior to and on the day of her death, make it clear that she was looking to commit suicide by cop. Ofc. Okuma had the misfortune of being the officer who was forced to pull the trigger.

    Diana Showman summoned the police to her residence, under circumstances she created to make it look like lives were at stake. She intentionally altered the drill to make it look like a gun, and she intentionally pointed it at the officer. What else could the officer do? If Diana Showman had been a police officer, what would her parents have wanted her to do in a situation where someone pointed what she thought was a gun at her?

    It is sad that Diana Showman felt like she wanted to die. Mental illness is a problem for which there is no easy answer. CIT training, while certainly helpful, is no guarantee of a successful outcome. In fact, the idea that a recruit just out of the academy is better equipped to deal with a mentally ill person than a 20 year veteran, simply because a recruit sat through a CIT class, is ridiculous. Through training and experience, officers are able to safely resolve the overwhelming majority of interactions with the mentally ill. Unfortunately however, if an individual is determined enough to create the type of circumstances that Diana Showman did, they can leave officers with little choice. Pointing a gun at a police officer, or something that the officer will believe is a gun, will almost always result in a shooting. At no point in any CIT class are officers instructed to ignore a pointed gun.

    Police officers, especially these days, are popular targets. This story makes little mention of all of Diana Shownan’s prior contacts with the mental health system. After “multiple suicide attempts” and “violent encounters with her family’, who were the mental health professionals who determined that she was well enough to be living on her own? In a sense, Ofc. Okuma was another victim here. I’m sure she would’ve much preferred to have been somewhere else. She was only doing her job.

    • Absolutely well said. I could not agree closer. -Eric, area resident.

    • Diana Showman did not charge at the officers with an object that could resemble a gun, thus requiring the officers to make a split second, though wrong assessment, justifying the shot taken by Officer Okuma. Instead she was sauntering around, in a dazed state for a bit of time. The officer shot her (and ONLY one of three officers shot) at a 15 foot distance. The officers had other options, prior to that 15 foot distance. A tazer would have been accurate at 30 feet. A strong stream of pepper spray could have been deployed at 20 feet. Both could have been effective in stopping her advancement and temporatily rendered her helpless, so that the officers could have moved in to take control of the perceived threat. This is called “escalation of force” and this concept is taught in all police academies. The concept is to use verbal commands, physical restraint (arrest control), baton or asp, pepper spray, tazer, rubber or bean bag deployment, then the deadly force of firearms. In this case, verbal commands were used, physical restraints and baton steps were skipped and accurately so, but all steps from pepper spray, tazer, to non lethal bean bag steps were erroneously skipped. The officers had the equipment, the opportunity and the time to have taken these steps. ONE officer shot which is also telling. In my humble opinion, Officer Okuma made a deadly mistake and literally jumped the gun.

  2. Listen to the 911 tape. Why did the family repeatedly tell 911 dispatch that this person was armed with a mac10?

  3. The family wants an independent civilian review. That BS. Even if they had that they would loose as the facts are pretty clear that this is a shoot situation. If they lost that review they would want another review. What they want is someone to agree with them. Sorry cops performed and acted as they should. The police did a great job. The only victim is the officer that will second guess her self later. But she should not!!!

  4. Just so we are clear, although the picture posted above with the underlining comment that the deceased ‘can be seen holding drill,’ doesn’t mean that in a split second the officer could make that same recognition. Now, if the officer could have had this picture and studied it before taking action, well perhaps the incident would have turned out different. But then again, we already have that information and see it as a ‘possible’ drill. Had we not been given that piece of information, it can resemble a weapon, a Mac 10 maybe?

    • From the behind Josh’s computer screen 20/20 maybe even 20/10 hindsight is the modus operandi. The all seeing all-knowing Journo is able project facts and evidence only known in the present to what one should have known and seen and interpreted sometime in the past.

      Had the Officer seen the drill and known with absolute CERTAINTY that the object was a drill I am sure she would have responded differently.

      Unfortunately that are many examples of unscrupulous people who for nefarious reasons chose to disguise REAL GUNS as toys or everyday objects to use those guns for evil purposes – you can google this on your own…

      The girl knew enough to disguise a drill as a gun and to enough realistic gestures and numerous statements that the object was a gun that she convinced a number of other people that it was a gun.

      Stupid people will believe what stupid bloggers write when it suits their agenda….

      • Hey weed, just for the record, I agree with the officers actions here. There was a man with a drywall saw shot by SJSU police a month ago, and some folks claimed, “Language Barrier”

        I made the point that in any language, when a person in a uniform and badge is pointing a gun at you, it means stop whatever you’re doing and lay down.

        With this girl it seems like what played out was pre-meditated on her part. The 911 calls from the family say she has a weapon. She painted a drill black to add confusion about what it was. She had multiple chances to lay down and put her hands behind her head. She wanted this outcome.

        Some people will say she was too mentally ill to know that this isn’t a good outcome. To those people, I would say mental illness isn’t a free pass to threaten safety officers. Even if it wasn’t a true threat, they had no idea of knowing that. It’s unfortunate and sad. Nobody wanted this outcome.

  5. Nate Jaeger Here!

    Well Jack your coming down hard, but then again I saw the Cop at the pool party fiasco today and that was just insane. I heard about the Judge’s recommendation on the “Crazy” who shot the 12 year old in Cleveland and read about the 60 Police Car chase, 100 officer Chinese fire drill and the 150 round shooting and the jumping on the blocked in Black people’s car and the firing of another 42 rounds into the windshield. Having worked on San Jose I learned 50 years ago that you can’t herd crazy cats or people whose fantasy far exceeds their skill. I live in Zurich and watch what happens in San Jose and it’s really dangerous. Don’t call them under any circumstances and you will be OK. I think your right Jack but remember you have to live there.

  6. Seemingly neutral and technically accurate words can reveal editorial bias in a news story. SJI leans heavily to the anti-cop side by describing 19 year old Diana Showman as a “teenager.” If she had robbed a bank, they would have described Ms. Showman as a 19 year old “woman.” Name one 19 year old who would refer to him/herself as a teenager?

    • JohnMichael, since you are an attorney, it surprises me that you cannot recognize the FACT that 19 is the last year in the teen age period of life. Teen or adult however is a moot point, and you are focusing on irrelevant labels. What we should be focusing is that a mentally ill person, whose illness was or should have been well known to SJPD, was armed with a non lethal, non threatening item, and some of the bystanders saw that it was a drill and shouted that fact out, prior to the fatal shot taken. It should also be noted that there was time on the officers side, that this was not an ambush. The officers had at their disposal non lethal means to stop her, had cover to protect themselves and had safe distance to deploy tazers and pepper spray, or non lethal bean bags. Trust me, any of those three weapons would have most likely worked. I knew you as a young and highly zealous attorney, and I have to say, you are jumping to conclusions that don’t bear on this case whatsoever. And in case you jump to the conclusion that I’m anti cop, you’re dead wrong. I recently retired from law enforcement with 22 years under my belt.

      • Either your claim to have worked for 22 years in “law enforcement” is a lie, your “law enforcement” job was far removed from the work of a police officer, or you were asleep at every training session you ever attended. You say “trust me.” As a police officer whose been on the streets for longer than your supposed 22 years, I don’t think you have any idea what you’re talking about. Where did you work?

        • Oh Pete, as a cop, you should be quite aware of the escalation of force training. However, I attended the academy in the 80’s at Evergreen, and it certainly was taught there. Are you saying that you don’t use that training when assessing threat and control of situations? Are you aware that according to the D.A.’s report, a few things were glaringly concerning. One was that of the three officers positioned on Blossom Hill, in front of the residence, one was armed with “non-lethal” rifle. He had ample time to deploy his firearm, but didn’t. I believe that San Jose is equipped with tazers, and although they’re not ALWAYS non-lethal for all persons, Diana would have had a much better chance surviving a taze than a round from the AR15. Officer Okuma should NEVER have removed the alleged weapon from the victim, as should no one else, until the crime scene was secure, with the exception of course, if it had been a real gun. Even then she shouldn’t have touched it, being the shooting officer. However a sergeanth had the wherwithall to observe the drill in the passenger seat of Okumas patrol vehicle, and her sitting next to it, and return it to the exact spot where it was taken. It doesn’t matter, in any way to me what you believe about my background, or what you believe about this issue. I hope the family pursues this by having an independent investigation, and brings this to the attention of the media to facilitate change. ALL officers and ALL dispatchers should go through C.I.T. training in the academy and then ongoing continuing education dealing with mental health issues. After all POST requires ongoing firearms training, and other types of training. CIT is no different. If you’d like to make an intelligent response, I’ll read it if you continue to attact my honesty, I won’t engage. I worked in California and attended and graduated from a POST academy. Have a nice career.

          • BTW was your partner Jim Reed, and was your call sign 1 Adam 12? Just wondering was your name and all…….

          • Even though you didn’t directly admit it, your response made it pretty clear that you never worked as a police officer. You are trying to speak as an expert regarding a job I don’t believe you ever did. In the real world, each officer must base their decision about whether or not to fire their weapon on what they are perceiving. The drill could obviously have reasonably have been perceived to be a gun, as it was intended to be perceived, and that’s how Ofc. Okuma saw it. Your Monday morning quarterbacking from the safety of your couch is further proof you were never a cop. You probably never had to make a similar determination.

            The fact that she was the only officer that fired is irrelevant. She was reacting to what she was seeing, and all officers present weren’t in her exact position. In the same way that an officer shouldn’t fire his or her weapon just because another officer does, Ofc. Okuma’s decision to pull the trigger shouldn’t have been based on whether anyone else was firing as well. There’s no time to get together and take a vote.

            If you’d paid closer attention during the academy classes you attended in the 80s, you’d be aware that a taser and pepper spray aren’t appropriate responses to someone with a gun. If a recruit were to draw their taser in response to a subject threatening him or her with a gun, they’d receive a failing grade.

            The young woman in this incident wanted officers to think she had a gun. Unfortunately, she was successful in doing so. I’m sure Ofc. Okuma wishes the incident didn’t end the way it did, but she didn’t do anything wrong. Her perception was reasonable and understandable. It’s your belief that the police academy made you an expert about a job you never did that’s in error.

  7. Why is it that the only time a person or group of people publicly demands a ‘truly independent’ commission or panel or review of an investigation it is because they are unhappy with the conclusion(s) of recently rendered one?

    Anyone have any idea how many agencies each with subject matter experts conduct their own ‘independent’ investigations in an OIS? (The IPA for one though calling her a subject matter expert is ridiculous)

    What people seem to forget is that there is ONLY ONE SET OF FACTS all these investigators have to work with. Some wise person aptly named them the COLD HARD FACTS.

    I wonder who the Snowmans would staff their ‘independent’ panel with?

  8. First if all, their name is Showman. Any time there is officer involved shooting, another agency takes over the crime scene. In this case it should have been the S.O. Then the D.A.s office, the S. O. and concurrently but independently, SJPD should have conducted their own investigations. Most importantly NEVER should the shooting cop be allowed to touch move or remove ANY piece of evidence in the crime scene. She should have immediately been taken from the scene. What smacks of improper and questionable procedure is that Officer Okuma took the drill from the deceased, and placed it in her own patrol vehicle thus violationing the chain of evidence control. Less than standard police work, all around in my opinion. They’re taught better than this in the academy. As for the comment that Officer Okuma’s C.I.T. training could not be implemented because of the exigent circumstances, that is ridiculous. Diana, walking around dazed and NOT charging at the cops gave that C.I.T. officer the time she needed to enter into the role she was trained for. Had she taken the time when she had it to start to talk Diana down, she may have avoided using her gun. If she or the other cops used their pepper spray and/or tazer, Diana may still be alive. I speak from a place of knowledge and experienced the training I’m speaking about. What training and experience are you coming from, Meyer?

    • Apology…Showman… I’m coming from a training and experience perspective that is aware of the Santa Clara County Officer Involved Incident Policy/protocol that says that the jurisdiction where the incident occurs has primary investigative responsibility – a responsibility that it may delegate to another agency but is in no way obligated to.

      I also come from a long standing legally affirmed perspective that understands very clearly that in post incident analysis we can ONLY judge the actions based on FACTS known to the officer (s) at the time action was taken.

      So facts known to bystanders and other witnesses are mildly interesting but are largely irrelevant when discussing the officers knowledge at that time she pulled the trigger.

      As I said else where there are many sources availible that document persons efforts to disguise real firearms as common everyday items. It is entirely plausible that some sort of firearm could have been concealed inside a hollowed out cordless drill… Ms Showman and others said it was a gun, it looked like it could be a gun or could conceal a gun and was being handled by Ms Showman as if it were a gun…. very tragic , very sad very unfortunate that those facts lead to her death. Very easy for you and others to Monday morning quarterback this to a better conclusion but it doesn’t and won’t change anything.

      Any real police who listens to your nonsense and believes it or thinks they will act they way you wanted officers in this incident to act are setting themselves up for failure that might result in their own injury or even death …. in the event such a tradgedy does occur can we look forward to you praising a dead or injured officer or will you show up to tell us how stupid they were and caused their own demise?

  9. Pete, if you did your homework before you shot your mouth off, you would have read the DA’s report and found that one of the other officers drawing down on her had a non lethal rifle, using his words and had her in his sights at 30 feet. Prior history showed contacts with her for 5150 issues and 415 family. They were ready to deploy at 30 feet. At 15 feet she was killed. Personally thats too close for comfort even with an engine block between, which shows hesitation on Okuna’s part. And yes, to reply to your insinuations that I’m full of it, I did work on patrol, I am retired and I’ve got the PERS retirement I’ve earned. But that shouldn’t matter. Layperson, cop, dispatcher, paramedic, would see there are questions, and I’ve brought those concerns up. If you don’t agree, that’s your prerogative. I believe those issues should be looked at, if for no other reason, but to make positive changes in procedure for the future. If you are in LE for as long as you’ve stated, you will have to agree that prior events have changed training forevermore, and this should be dissected and learned from to avoid the same outcome in the future. Remember Newhall?

  10. Meyer, read the DA’s report before you through out your opinion. I did. I saw glaring mistakes that would have been in violation of my department and were violations with SJPD protocol. Never should the deadly weapon she supposedly was armed with before from the crime scene immediately after the OIS. Absolutely never should it be removed by the shooting officer. That breaks the chain of evidence seriously. Now questions can be raised…….was the a drill bit in the drill, making it look like what it was. Could the weapon have been switched, and so forth. I’m not saying either of those situations occurred, the mistake was nevertheless made by Officer Okuma and it was Sgt Mason who returned the evidence back to the crime scene because he knew she shouldn’t have moved it. Bad choice which begs the question, is Officer Okuma guilty of other bad decisions. In the DA report she said she felt there was no time to do anything but shoot, but the video shows Diana walking in a dazed for a bit of time. The DA reports another officer set up near Okuma was readied with a non lethal rifle. He should have taken the shot somewhere between the 30 feet distance to the 15 foot distance while Diana was walking in a daze. If that didnt work ( and it would have knocked her down), the lethal force could be the next step. The same is true for the tazer. I speak from the heart when I say the officers I worked with going home from each shift were my first priority. But, innthis situation, I see mistakes and choices that could have been different according to whats in the DA’s report, that’s all. I understand why the family wants it looked into from a non-biased perspective, by uninvolved investigators.

    • Why only 22 years? Got hurt after a year or two and then rode a desk the rest of the way? Psych disability?

    • I read the report. The shooting was justified. The rest of the report? Lessons learned… great training points.

      The officers involved in that situation acted based on a set of facts and perceptions known by them in the moment that they acted. Anyone who says that they should have acted in another way based on facts known to others or learned later is judging with 20/20 hindsight and has no place in the discussion. If you were a cop or have any experience in law you would know this and no one would be questioning your credentials. What you did in your department, what your colleagues would have done differently (which you cannot know with any certainty), what your department’s policy was ….again is mildly interesting but completely irrelevant.

      Go back to you financially stable retired life and enjoy it.

  11. No Pete. Actively worked-started out in my late twenties. Was financially set so that I could retire after 22 years. My career and retirement is irrelevant to this issue. You sound ridiculous. This forum isn’t to bully others. It’s for people to express their opinions. I won’t respond back again to you because I won’t have a battle of intelligence with an unarmed person.

    • I’m not surprised that when you are challenged you feel bullied. It’s just another way in which you are unlike any police officer I’ve ever worked with. My entire career has been spent with SJPD, on the street. I wish you’d been willing to be more specific about your experience, since it apparently forms the basis for your shameful attempt to second guess this officer’s decision.

    • Your career is entirely relevant when you inject your opinion and say it is based on your experience and your former department’s policy.