LANCASTER – The family and girlfriend of a man shot and killed by deputies in Lancaster Thursday morning are disputing the sheriff’s department’s version of the story.
The man, identified by family members as 61-year-old Michael L. Thomas, was being restrained by at least four deputies when he was shot to death, his family claims.
“He never tried to reach for no gun so that story is false,” said brother James “Jimmy” Thomas.
According to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the fatal shooting occurred around 5:25 a.m. Thursday, June 11, inside a residence in the 600 block of West Avenue H-12, after deputies responded to a “domestic violence in progress call for service.”
“The suspect refused to comply with the deputy’s orders, and an altercation between the deputies and the suspect ensued. During the altercation, the suspect reached down and attempted to gain control of one of the deputy’s firearm. It was at that time when a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” sheriff’s officials said in the news release.
Thomas’ girlfriend, Kimberly Smith, said she witnessed the altercation between Thomas and deputies. Smith, who was extremely upset and at times hard to understand, said she and Thomas got into a physical altercation early that morning over another female. Smith maintains that she never called officers to the home, but when deputies arrived, “four police officers came in and twisted his arm, no handcuffs no nothing,” Smith said, adding that she never saw Thomas trying to gain control of a deputy’s firearm.
Thomas’ brother, Jimmy, added, “That’s what they’ve been doing all through the media, always thinking that the black man is trying to pull a weapon… or reaching for their gun. And then they just shoot them and nothing happens to [the officers]. I know my brother, he would never do nothing like that.”
The family has obtained an attorney to seek justice for Thomas.
“I’m gonna miss my brother. He was a good man and a devoted father,” Jimmy said.
UPDATE: The sheriff’s department released a statement late Thursday night that appears to refute Kimberly Smith’s claim that she didn’t call officers to the home during the domestic dispute.
According to the LASD statement: “the 911 call was placed by the suspect’s girlfriend. During the call to 911, she never speaks to the operator but rather the phone line is left open. For several minutes arguing and fighting between the caller and the suspect can be heard in the background. Also, in a recorded statement to deputies, the suspect’s girlfriend indicated she was the person who called 911 and stated she was assaulted by the suspect.”
Read the full LASD statement at: https://local.nixle.com/alert/8052918/?sub_id=0
Previous related story: Man killed in deputy-involved shooting in Lancaster