The parents of a man shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Arnold last spring broke months of silence Wednesday in telling the Enterprise their son was shot in the back.
Kevin Duey, 44, was shot by Corp. Tom Oldham with an AR15 rifle in March.
During his life, Duey was a contractor, skilled tile-setter and talented musician, according to his parents. He left behind his wife, Kristin, and triplet autistic 12-year-old boys.
The incident began March 15 at 8:24 a.m. when a possible burglary in progress was reported on the 700 block of Blue Lake Springs Drive.
Duey reportedly flagged down the driver of an Ebbetts Pass Gas truck and waved a handgun in the driver’s face before running into a wooded area along Blue Lake Springs Drive.
Reports came in a short time later of a man acting erratically firing a 40mm semi-automatic handgun on Moran Road near Dawyn Drive.
Oldham responded to the scene and ordered Duey to drop the weapon. Instead of complying, Duey reportedly pointed the weapon at the deputy.
In response to this threatening behavior, Oldham fired one shot, killing Duey, reports said.
Duey’s parents, Pat and Bob, read a portion of a sheriff’s report to the Enterprise via phone. The report from which they read has yet to be released publicly. Before the report is made public, it must be reviewed by District Attorney Barbara Yook, who said she will not “be rushed.”
According to the report prepared by Detective Wade Whitney and read to the Enterprise by Duey’s parents, Oldam armed himself with an AR15 after hearing shots fired in the area and walked up an embankment toward where the sound of shots had come from. Duey and Oldham made eye contact once the corporal reached the top and Duey reportedly pointed a gun at him. Oldham yelled verbal commands and identified himself as a deputy, at which point Duey pointed the gun at him again and began moving away. Oldham advanced toward Duey because he didn’t want to have such a long shot, if it became necessary, and saw him try to climb a steep embankment. Duey failed to reach the top and slid back down, spun and again pointed the handgun at Oldham at which time the deputy fired one round from his AR15 and it struck Duey.
“I don’t see how somebody who is climbing an embankment and slides down deserves to be shot,” Bob Duey said. “We know Kevin was exhibiting strange and dangerous behavior, but we don’t think he deserved to die.”
“The cause of death was shock and hemorrhage as a consequence of a gunshot wound to the torso,” Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio said after performing the autopsy.
Death would have been almost immediate, as the bullet severed his aorta, Raggio continued.
“It tore his heart up,” Raggio continued. “It hit his aorta and lungs, which are both fatal areas. Any attempt to save him would have been in vain.”
According to the Calaveras County coroner’s report, which was read to the Enterprise by Duey’s parents, the bullet struck Duey in the back, which had not been reported by the Sheriff’s Office, despite requests for clarification on the matter.
The report stated the bullet entered in the right mid back 18 inches below the vertex and 2.5 inches right of midline, creating a 3/16 diameter hole, according to Duey’s parents. The round exited in the upper left chest, they continued.
“This was not a righteous shooting,” Pat Duey said, questioning how her son was an immediate threat to the deputy if his back was turned.
Sgt. Chris Hewitt with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office offered this explanation.
“He was essentially in what we call a bladed stance, and that would explain the diagonal back entry and chest exit,” Hewitt said. “It was not a case where his back was completely turned on a flat plain to the deputy. He wasn’t standing in such a way that prevented him from pointing a weapon at the deputy. When Oldham fired the weapon, Duey was pointing the weapon at him.”
During phone conversations with lawyers, Duey’s parents were told they should not think of the man Odlham shot that day as the son they knew and loved – he was under the influence of drugs and acting like a completely different person.
A methamphetamine pipe was found on Duey’s person, according to a sheriff’s release.
Duey’s criminal history did not indicate methamphetamine use, however when the toxicology report came back it showed Duey had a blood-alcohol content of .06 and was under the influence of methamphetamine, according to his parents. They also said he was recovering from a surgery and was taking prescription medications to help cope with pain.
Both his parents were stunned to learn their son was on meth.
“I knew it was available up there, but alcohol was his drug of choice,” Pat Duey said.
“Was he exhibiting dangerous behavior? Yes,” she continued. “But he didn’t harm anybody. Nobody else was hurt, except him.”
In August, two wrongful death claims were filed with the county – one on behalf of Duey’s wife and one on behalf of his three sons.
They were both rejected Oct. 17. The reason given was, “It is determined the action was not brought on good faith and without reasonable cause,” according to a document Duey’s parents read.
Every lawyer Pat and Bob Duey contacted turned them down, stating without a witness there was little chance of winning the case.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get any closure to this,” Bob Duey said, adding he can no longer bring himself to visit the houses he owns in the Blue Lake Springs area.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Pat Duey said. “We cry a lot. We talk and we hug and we cry and we just wonder, how did this happen?”
Duey’s wife of 17 years, Kristin Duey, said her husband was a wonderful person and a loving husband and father.
“He made us laugh all the time,” she said. “He always read bedtime stories to the boys while I hurried around picking up around the house, but I would usually end up in there with them because of all of the fun that was going on. He was dedicated to learning sign language to be able to communicate with one of ours sons that cannot talk.”
“It has been very hard for us to believe Kevin is gone,” Kristin said. “We miss him so very much.”
Contact Joel Metzger at firstname.lastname@example.org