Video obtained by the Houston Chronicle captures the killing of an apparently unarmed man who was shot by a Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy in the Greater Greenspoint area Thursday.
The Houston Police Department confirmed Friday that Danny Ray Thomas, 34, died after the deputy, who has not been named, fired one shot at him around 1 p.m. in the 17600 block of Imperial Valley Road.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jason Spencer said Thursday that no weapon was recovered at the scene.
Earlier Danny Thomas was seen walking in the middle of the intersection with his pants around his ankles, talking to himself and hitting vehicles as they passed by
The official police report states that the Harris County deputy was trying to break up a fight when he fatally shot the unarmed man March 22, who ‘acted aggressively toward the officer and ignored his commands’.
The shooting occurred around 12:53 p.m. Thursday at Imperial Valley and Greens Road in Houston’s Greater Greenspoint area.
The victim was identified by family members at the scene as Danny Ray Thomas, was wounded by a single gunshot fired by the deputy and died at the hospital, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. The deputy was not injured.
Shortly before he shot, the deputy can be seen in the video walking backward away from Thomas with his gun drawn, shouting commands at the clearly unarmed man who had his pants down
Before the deputy arrived, a motorist had stopped in the intersection to confront Thomas. the deputy on arrival broke up the altercation and can be seen in the video walking backward away from Thomas with his gun drawn, shouting commands at Thomas.
He can be seen ordering Thomas to stop walking and get down, but Thomas continues approaching. A lone gunshot can be heard on the video, next the officer is seen on the crouching over Thomas, who is face down on the pavement.
Witnesses said Thomas was “walking in the middle of the intersection of Imperial Valley and Greens Road with his pants around his ankles, talking to himself and hitting vehicles as they passed by,” according to a press release Friday from Houston police department.
The deputy was passing through the area when he saw two men in what appeared to be a verbal and physical altercation near the intersection, Gonzalez said.
According to Houston police the officer parked his vehicle and started to investigate, but Thomas allegedly, began acting erratic and behaved in an aggressive manner.
The deputy ordered Thomas to hold up his hands and halt, but he continued to advance toward him, the sheriff said.
The deputy fired his pistol one time, Gonzalez said.
Minutes later Thomas is down
Family members said two of Thomas, who struggled with depression, had been devastated since his children Kayana Thomas, 5, and O’Raylan Thomas, 7 died in 2016. Their mother allegedly drowned them in a bathtub at their home in Houston’s Third Ward.
Sheborah Thomas, is awaiting trial for the two capital murder charges filed against her.
The shooting is reportedly, the ninth officer-involved shooting in Houston’s Harris County this year, and the fourth by a Harris County Sheriff’s Department officer.
Sheborah Thomas admitted to drowning her children
Kayana Thomas, 5, and O’Raylan Thomas, 7 were drowned in a bathtub by their mom in 2016
Reacting to the killing, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas issued a statement on Sunday calling on the sheriff’s department to release any dashcam and body-camera footage in the shooting and for the department to review its use-of-force policies to “demand lethal force only be used as a last resort”.
“It’s difficult to imagine how this shooting could possibly be justified,” said Sharon Watkins-Jones, director of political strategies of the ACLU of Texas. “We must demand that our law enforcement agencies, who are sworn to protect our communities, be held accountable whenever deadly force is used unlawfully.
“But whatever the excuse, another unarmed black man has been killed by law enforcement, in the street and in broad daylight, and the only reason we know about it is because of bystander footage.”