Things are tough all over when a guy in La Habra rushes at cops while holding an ax with “pigs” written on the handle on the Fourth of July, or when a cop in Fullerton comes up on a fellow in a crosswalk, pushes him from behind and then files a phony police report claiming the dude was resisting arrest.
Welcome to Orange County, Mouseketeers!
A jury on Feb. 22 found Dan James Schuneman guilty of four felony counts of assault on La Habra police officers and three felony counts of resisting an executive officer.
The 48-year-old La Habra resident now faces a maximum sentence of 120 years to life in state prison at a scheduled April 20 hearing, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office (OCDA).
Schuneman was extremely upset (you think?) around 8:30 a.m. on July 4, 2017, when he contacted the La Habra Police Department.
As six officers responded to Schuneman’s residence for a welfare check, he swung open the door to expose the three-and-a-half-foot-long ax with “pigs” and different phrases inscribed on the handle, according to the OCDA.
Schuneman “walked briskly toward the officers with the ax above his head and the blade facing officers,” say prosecutors, who add, “He ignored commands to stop.”
Officers fired a less-than-lethal taser and beanbag round at Schuneman “with little effect” before one unidentified cop shot a single round at the suspect with a handgun, the OCDA says.
That stopped him.
Schuneman was taken to a local hospital to recover from the gunshot wound.
After sentencing, and barring appeals, that would conclude the criminal case against the defendant. But the OCDA is not done with the incident itself, since it investigates police shootings. The results of that will be released at a later date, according to the agency.
It’s rare, but the OCDA also investigates and prosecutes misdeeds by police officers, including former Fullerton cop Miguel Siliceo.
The 52-year-old Anaheim resident pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor count of using excessive force, earning a sentence of 30 days in jail, three years of informal probation and an order to pay $4,200 in restitution.
Siliceo was on duty with a patrol partner on July 9, 2015, when they rolled up on a fellow in downtown Fullerton. Siliceo approached the unidentified victim from behind and pushed him as he was legally crossing in a marked crosswalk.
Based on Siliceo’s report that the man had resisted arrest, the OCDA filed a misdemeanor count against the man, who prosecutors identified as “John Doe” and who–to reiterate–did nothing wrong.
Body worn camera footage from other officers present at the time of the arrest of John Doe did not corroborate the arrest report Siliceo wrote, according to the OCDA, which dismissed the charge against the suspect and then referred Siliceo’s actions to the Special Prosecutions Unit for review for filing of a possible criminal complaint.
That’s exactly what happened, and somewhere along the way Siliceo and the Fullerton Police Department parted ways. The OCDA notes that the FPD fully cooperated in the investigation of its former veteran officer.
And they wonder why nasty things get written on ax handles …
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.