Charleston man admits he had a knife when lunging at police last year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man who was shot by police admitted he had a knife when he lunged at officers during an incident last year.

Denaul Dickerson, 34, pleaded guilty to three charges Monday during a virtual hearing before Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera Salango.

The charges include felony breaking and entering and two misdemeanors including brandishing and obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Officers shot Dickerson twice on April 30, 2021 after responding to a call about a man causing a disturbance near Washington Street West and Greendale Drive.

“The defendant became aggressive. At one point, he pulled a knife from his pocket and began waving it at the officers,” Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rusnak told the judge.

After Dickerson pleaded guilty to the brandishing charge, Judge Salango asked why he did.

“What did you do to be guilty of brandishing?” she asked.

“I had a knife and was just walking with it,” he replied.

Dickerson also admitted to not listening to the officers’ commands.

He was hospitalized for a week. Police officers did not face charges for their actions.

Dickerson previously faced assault charges.

In a separate incident on March 23, 2020, prosecutors said Dickerson threw a rock at the Exxon One Stop in Charleston.

“When you broke in, what was your intent?” the judge asked Dickerson.

“I was just hungry,” Dickerson said.

“So you were going to steal food?” the judge asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Dickerson replied.

Dickerson told the judge he takes medication for both bipolar and schizophrenia disorders. A psychologist previously found Dickerson competent to accept a plea deal.

Defense attorney Mark Plants said at the close of the hearing, a plea deal was the right thing to do given the evidence stacked against his client.

“The video clearly shows, and my client understands that, he had a knife in his hand. He was given multiple orders by law enforcement officers that he intentionally and failed to follow. That is clearly a breach of the peace,” Plants said.

Dickerson faces up to 12 years behind bars.

Sentencing is set for May 17 at 9:30 a.m.

Dickerson is currently being held in the South Central Regional Jail.

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