In Harris County, Texas a video has surfaced of a black man being fatally shot in broad daylight in the middle of a street. This wasn’t a case of gang violence or inner-city turmoil. The man was walking, clearly unarmed, with his pants pulled down around his ankles across a street arguing with another man. A deputy pulled his gun instead of his taser and killed the man. His name was Danny Ray Thomas.
A video was obtained by the Houston Chronicle shows Thomas walking across an intersection aggressively. His pants are down around his ankles and it is clear that he is unarmed. According to officials, Thomas and another man were engaged in a physical and verbal altercation. The deputy was on the scene breaking up the fight after he saw them while cruising by. Officials say that Thomas was not listening to the officer’s commands–as if that justifies shooting an unarmed man.
A woman across the street started recording when it looked as though Thomas was going to get tased by the officer. She narrates as much. However, a delivery van blocks her view, a gunshot is heard, and when the vehicle moves, Thomas is lying on the ground unresponsive. He was rushed to a hospital but died due to his wound.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez stated:
Our deputies work in a very difficult environment where they have to make split-second decisions to protect their lives as well. Our condolences go to the family of this individual. Obviously, they’re someone’s loved one. These situations are always difficult and so the main thing we can do is to make sure that we get the facts and that we’re thorough and transparent.
Condolences just don’t seem like enough, do they? Once again, a cop has acted as judge and jury in a split second and sentenced a man to death for arguing with another man.
The family that Gonzalez mentioned has had more than their share of grief in recent years. The victim’s two young children were killed in 2016 by their mother, Sheborah Thomas. The woman drowned her and Danny’s 7-year-old son O’Raylan and 5-year-old daughter Kayana in their bathtub. She is facing two counts of capital murder and is waiting for her trial.
Danny Thomas’s sister, Marketa Thomas, said that she and her brother both suffer from depression and were a solace to each other. She said:
Knowing that he was OK when I woke up every day made me fine. And knowing that my brother is no longer here—you think I’m going to be fine? I’m not going to be fine. That’s my brother. That’s my flesh and my blood. We’ve been through everything together. He had my back through everything. And he promised me he wouldn’t leave me, and he didn’t leave me. Somebody took him from me.
Now the Thomas family has to endure even more in their fragile emotional states. The lack of proper mental healthcare ripped two small children from them. Now, the deputy’s perceptions of an emotionally damaged man have taken their father.
Beyond the obvious race questions, this case raises questions about police training. Why kill a man who has posed no threat to the officer? Surely, a taser would have stopped him. And the family would still have him in their lives.
Watch the video here:
#BREAKING Video obtained by the @HoustonChron shows the death of Danny Ray Thomas after he was shot by a Harris County deputy Thursday. No weapon was recovered at the scene, officials said. #hounews #breakingnews
— Robert Downen (@RobDownenChron) March 24, 2018