Death of Man Shot By Paradise Police Officer Leads to More Questions

Police Shooting
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Police Shooting

This week 26-year-old Andrew Thomas died from gunshot wounds sustained on November 26, fired by Paradise Police Officer Patrick Feaster. On December 10, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced that his office would not be charging the officer for firing at the man who was fleeing police in a suspected drunk driving incident.

Mr. Ramsey initially called the shooting “an accident,” stating that the officer “did not intentionally fire his pistol” and that “he was in shock at the scene and not certain his weapon had actually discharged.” He called the shooting negligent, but not criminal.

However, a Chico TV station is now reporting that the death of Mr. Thomas now raises additional questions such as whether the officer’s “negligent action in handling his firearm rises to the level of criminal negligence necessary to prove a potential charge of involuntary manslaughter.” There is also the fact that Officer Feaster made the decision to wait 11 minutes before reporting that his gun fired and whether that fact contributed to the death of Mr. Thomas.

The video is captured by dashcam and it paints a questionable case that this was a negligent shooting.

The incident began when Officer Feaster, who some media say “prides himself on cracking down on drunk drivers and winning awards from MADD, noticed a car leaving a bar without its headlights on.” He immediately pursued the vehicle, which struck the median and rolled over.

What we see on the video is the officer exiting his vehicle, and pulling out his gun as Mr. Thomas is trying to climb out of the car. Immediately the officer opens fire and Mr. Thomas collapses.

How the DA determines this is an accidental shooting is anyone’s guess.

“I’ve got an unresponsive female … I’ve got a male refusing to get out,” the officer says after Mr. Thomas falls back into the car. It takes the officer 11 minutes before telling responding officers that he fired his gun.

But there is more here. Not only did he wait 11 minutes, he lied about what happened by claiming that the male was refusing to get out.

In fact, he doubles down on that claim because, when additional officers arrive, he repeats that “there is a male in the car refusing to get out.”

The other officers continue to order Thomas out of the car.

“Get out of the car, sir, you’re not shot, sir, get out of the car,” said one of the officers. Then later: “Did you get shot at the Canteena? Who shot you? The cop did not shoot you.”

The police were apparently going to return to the bar to find out who shot Mr. Thomas when Officer Feaster finally admitted, “I think I shot him… I wasn’t even pointing at him but the gun did go off.”

Butte County DA Mike Ramsey apparently bought into this story, “The dash cam video shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the gun’s firing. The pistol discharges in mid-stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a stutter step indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally, officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots. There was no second shot and the officer immediately holstered his weapon after the discharge.”

That is certainly not what I saw on the video. He pulled out the gun, aimed, opened fire, and after hitting the victim, he calmly placed his gun back in the holster.

Paradise Mayor Jody Jones said, “The Town of Paradise is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Andrew Thomas, who was shot by a Town of Paradise police officer following a driving under the influence incident and roll over collision that killed Darien Ehorn, a passenger in Mr. Thomas’ vehicle.”

“The Town of Paradise Police Department is conducting an investigation into the incident that led to the death of Mr. Thomas. The investigation will be thorough and impartial in its review of every aspect of the Town’s response, including the shooting of Mr. Thomas and the delay in information becoming known to supervising officers involved at the accident scene,” she said.

“The investigation is underway and will take some time to complete,” she added. “At the same time, the Town has and will continue to cooperate in every way with any investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and any other agency that investigates the case.”

Here’s information from the local broadcast:

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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14 thoughts on “Death of Man Shot By Paradise Police Officer Leads to More Questions”

  1. Biddlin

    Thanks for posting this, David. The folks up in Paradise are starting to wonder why this hasn’t gotten more notice. They clearly don’t believe Feaster, no longer trust Ramsey and are calling for an external investigation.

    As one Paradise resident, Cynthia Binyon said,“I don’t trust an agency to investigate themselves.We can’t put up with that.”

  2. Alan Miller

    This is a fascinatingly horrific story that is clearly about to blow up the Paradise Police Dept.

    My feeling on this is that the cop, being a small town, knew the woman who was killed, was, as an anti-drunk-driving-activist-cop (which I rather applaud in-and-of-itself) enraged at witnessing her death at the hands of the driver, lost his mind with rage, executed the guy, then went into shock over his own actions.

    1. Biddlin

      “, then went into shock over his own action ”

      Why do you have to excuse this murderer? This is why there are too many cops killing too many citizens. 1175 killed by police in US, so far in 2015.

      1. Alan Miller

        Why do you have to excuse this murderer?

        What you are talking about?  I offered an explanation in trying to make sense of an incredibly senseless action.  There is no attempt to excuse.  I called it a possible execution.  That would be murder.

  3. PhillipColeman

    Speaking only from a proper police procedure and training standpoint–and looking only at the point where the officer existed the car–I can see no lawful or procedural justification for the officer to pull his weapon or aim his weapon.

    The officer was approaching an overturned vehicle. No visual evidence is shown where the occupants posed any potential lethal threat to the approaching officer. Therefore, he had no justification to withdraw his weapon. A peace officer being examined for this behavior usually will claim “anticipatory danger,” the bad could have taken, not one, but two actions to put the officer in peril. This is not a valid defense to the “premature” withdrawal of a deadly weapon.

    I am inclined to believe the officer when he says the discharge was accidental, not intentional, the gun just went off. That happens occasionally in times of great stress. And that’s why peace officers are trained–or should be trained–to not withdraw their firearm unless the threat is immediate and warrants the use of potential lethal force.

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Assuming your assessment – and my eyes seem to tell me that he acted more intentionally than that – it would end up as negligent homicide, correct?

      1. PhillipColeman

        My eyes saw in the video an intentional pulling the weapon and aiming. My eyes can’t go into the officer’s thought process and measure intention verses accident after that. He probably accidentally touched the trigger in his excitement but that’s an opinion that has no legal merit in a court of law.

        The DA used his eyes and decided that the incident did not meet the legal standard of negligent homicide. Many might dispute the DA’s interpretation of the criminal statute but his decision is final unless some corruption can be tangibly shown.

        We all need to remind ourselves that this presentation of the disputed issues here is in the court of public opinion. A court of law has far more rigorous standards for submission of purported facts and evidence. The District Attorney is the link-pin between the two disparate measures.

  4. Tia Will

    Phil

    I would have to defer to you on the likelihood that the “gun just went off”. But if that is the case, how do you explain his delay in summoning help and in explaining immediately exactly what had happened ?

  5. Biddlin

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2GWpQjzOc4

    Two shots, accidentally discharged?

    So Phil,I’m 63 and have been around guns all of my life. I have never had, nor have I seen anyone else have an “accidental” discharge. I’m less familiar with modern semi-automatic pistols, but I assume the safety must be “off” and the trigger actuated, so how frequent are these accidental discharges? If this is a common fault of such weapons, I recommend a return to the reliable and safe S&W .38 or Colt .357.

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