Houston police have come under scrutiny after releasing dashcam footage that caught the moments before an officer fatally shot an unarmed black man who reportedly had his pants down.
According to The New York Times, Harris County police officer Cameron Brewer fatally shot Danny Ray Thomas, 34, once in the chest within 30 seconds of responding to an altercation at a Houston intersection. The Times wrote that Brewer didn’t have his bodycam on at the time but his dashboard camera caught part of last Thursday’s deadly ordeal.
On Wednesday, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez expressed condolences to Thomas’ family and also expressed concern that the officer possibly failed to exercise de-escalation techniques or non-lethal force before opening fire.
“It is concerning that Mr. Thomas was unarmed; he was obviously in a state of crisis of some kind,” Gonzalez said, according to The Houston Chronicle.
“There’s a number of things that could be used, ranging from the mere presence of the deputy, to verbal commands, to the use of a Taser, to use of your hands, to ultimately, the use of (lethal) force… To go straight to that, that’s concerning to me, but in fairness, I have to make sure we determine from the deputy what his observations were at the time.”
However, the newspaper reported that police officials accused Thomas of acting aggressively toward Brewer and ignoring the seven-year veteran’s demands. Reports indicated that Thomas was foaming from the mouth when police arrived.
According to Texas Monthly, Brewer—who is African-American—was issued the bodycam hours before the fatal shooting. However, the device remained in his vehicle because it wasn’t charged, Gonzalez revealed.
Thomas’ relatives told The Houston Chronicle last week that his two children—a 5-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy—were allegedly drowned in the bathtub by their mother, Sheborah Thomas. Previous reports said that the mother is currently awaiting capital murder charges for the August 2016 slayings.
The video has surfaced days after Sacramento Police released footage showing the fatal shooting of Stephon Alonzo Clark, who was in his backyard at the time. While police said they believed Clark, 22, was armed, they revealed that only a cellphone was recovered from the scene.
The video also comes amid protests over the announcement by Louisiana officials that two Baton Rouge officers won’t face charges for the July 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling, 37. Cellphone footage caught officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II pinning Sterling to the ground moments before Salamoni opened fire. Police said they used lethal force because they believed Sterling was reaching for a gun.
[Featured Image: Harris County Sheriff’s Office]