A recent police-involved shooting continued to unfold as alleged gunman Kong Xiong pleaded not guilty Thursday on felony charges for being in a criminal street gang, and illegally possessing a loaded gun.
Judge Donald J. Proietti asked the defendant if he had any questions about the charges. A solemn and composed Xiong appeared via video stream answering, "No, sir."
Xiong, 18, faces up to nine years and four months in state prison if found guilty on all charges. The severity of the possible sentence is increased because of Xiong's involvement in a county-wide gang called Oriental Troop, said Deputy District Attorney David Elgin. "The charges that were filed were filed based on the preliminary report that we have at this time," he said. "As the investigation continues we will continue to evaluate what charges are appropriate to be filed."
A misdemeanor charge from when Xiong was a juvenile made it illegal for him to carry a firearm for 10 years. Xiong has no felony charges on his adult record, according to the district attorney's office.
Police arrested Xiong last weekend on charges, including assault with a deadly weapon. However, law enforcement authorities back-pedaled from an earlier official statement that Xiong "pointed his gun at the officers" who ended up shooting him in the leg and inadvertently killed an innocent bystander.
According to details from an unreleased police video of the incident, Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade described the moment before police opened fire: "Xiong suddenly turned towards officers with a handgun in his right hand and began running parallel to the house."
As for why assault charges weren't filed against Xiong, District Attorney Larry Morse II said, "At this time we do not have sufficient evidence to sustain this particular charge. We reserve the right to amend at a later date."
Judge Proietti set a bail hearing for Friday at 3 p.m. in Courtroom 7. A preliminary examination in Courtroom 10 at 1:30 p.m. is set for Dec 21. Xiong is being represented by the public defender's office.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or at firstname.lastname@example.org