Deputies Claim They Killed a Black Man in His Home When He Tried to Grab a Gun. His Family Says Otherwise.
Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty
A Los Angeles man was fatally shot in his house by MPs Thursday morning. However, his family insists that the tragic incident could have been avoided if the authorities had not pulled the trigger prematurely.
Michael "Blue" Thomas, 62, was killed in his living room early in the morning on Thursday after MPs from the Los Angeles District Sheriff Department responded to a domestic call, a spokesman for The Daily Beast said. But while the authorities claim that Thomas was shot after grabbing one of the MPs' weapons, his fiancee and lawyer insist the opposite - that he turns away.
"They broke the front and grabbed Mr. Thomas straight away," Bradley Gage, the family's lawyer, told The Daily Beast on Friday. "When they held him, they injured him by turning his arm. At that point, Mr. Thomas was trying to move because he felt uncomfortable, and a proxy simply stepped back and shot him. "
"He was murdered for no reason," he added. "It was 100 percent avoidable."
According to the sheriff's department, MPs responded to a "domestic violence call" in Lancaster around 5:30 in the morning. The emergency call was made by Thomas' fiance, Kimberly. She later told MPs that she was "attacked by the suspect," the authorities said.
"During the call to 911, she never speaks to the operator, but the phone line remains open," the statement said. "Quarrels between the caller and the suspect can be heard in the background for a few minutes."
When the MPs arrived, the authorities said they had tried to arrest Thomas, but he "refused to follow the MP's instructions and an argument broke out".
"During the conflict, the suspect reached down and attempted to take control of one of the alternate's firearms. At the time, a substitute was involved in a shootout," the statement said.
However, Gage said that Thomas had no gun and only verbally argued with his fiance when the police arrived - which the police "could have observed from an outside window instead of entering". He said Kimberly didn't go into detail with him about why she originally called the police - but he noticed that the couple had lived together for 21 years and often communicated loudly because they were "mostly deaf".
"The claim that he reached for a gun is completely wrong," added Gage, noting that the incident "completely contradicts the fourth change." "He was disabled, he had problems with his hands. It would have been painful for him to try to grab a gun. "
In an interview with CBS Los Angeles that first reported the shootout, Kimberly also said that Thomas had never tried to take one of the MPs' weapons. "I heard Michael say," I have the right not to let you in, "she said.
Authorities said Thomas was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. No MPs were injured.
Gage, who has been representing police officers and victims of police assault for more than 35 years, said the Thursday incident was a violation of the constitution. He called for accountability for all officers involved. He said the officer who shot Thomas should be charged and the other MPs present should report and "admit the crime".
"It's time to take responsibility," said Gage.
Protests against George Floyd's life over George Floyd's death across the country
The sheriff department informed The Daily Beast that the Homicide Bureau, internal affairs, and the district inspector general's office are conducting separate investigations, which is standard procedure for shootings involving officers. It was not immediately clear whether any of the officers involved had been disciplined for Thursday's incident.
The fatal shots come when residents of all 50 states have taken to the streets and led both peaceful and destructive protests by the police after George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis. While demonstrators have spoken out against racial injustice and police brutality, many have been subjected to further violence by law enforcement agencies. It has prompted several cities to face the brutal methods of their own police officers, many of which have been captured in harrowing video footage.
For Gage, the incident on Thursday is another painful reminder that law enforcement reform still has a long way to go.
"I have no doubt that if he were white, Mr. Thomas would still be alive today," he said.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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