Unarmed Black Man With Pants Around His Ankles Fatally Shot by Deputy: Video

“You could have clearly Tased him. He wasn't trying to hit you. He wasn't trying to shoot you. He wasn't trying to do anything,” said the victim’s sister.

HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT

The moments leading up to the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man were captured on video by a witness to the tragedy.

Danny Ray Thomas, 34, was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Houston, Texas, with his pants around his ankles.

According to a press release from the Houston Police Department, the incident began when Thomas was behaving erratically in an intersection, “talking to himself and hitting vehicles as they passed by.” Thomas and the driver of one of the vehicles reportedly became involved in a physical altercation. The deputy approached the scene to break up the fight, and Thomas began walking toward him, authorities stated. The officer commanded Thomas to stop, but he continued walking. “Fearing for his safety,” the deputy fired one fatal round into Thomas’ chest.

Video shared with the Houston Chronicle shows Thomas approaching the deputy, who has not been publicly identified, as the officer tells him to stop.

“He about to get Tased,” the woman who recorded the video says, laughing initially. Cars drive past the video frame several times, blocking parts of the recording. During one such incident, the woman starts to say, “Move out the way” when a single gunshot is heard, followed immediately by screams and gasps.

The woman recording is silent for a moment then says, “He shot that man?”

“Why he shot that man?” she asks. A man’s voice is also heard on the recording.

“Yeah, he shot that man,” the man answers. For a brief moment, Thomas’ body is seen laying in the street.

“Why he shot him?” she repeatedly questions.

The woman’s companion yells an inaudible response.

“Okay, he should’ve got Tased! He shouldn’t have shot that man in no street!” the woman says.

“The first thing — you’re not supposed to reach for your gun; you’re supposed to reach for your Taser,” she says at the end of the video.

Thomas was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Warning: Contains graphic content

The Houston Police Department also released dash cam footage of the incident. But the shooting itself was not visible on this video, either.

The sheriff’s office claimed that Thomas was believed to have had an object in his hand, the Chronicle reported. But no weapons were recovered at the scene — as in the case of Stephon Clark, whose supposed “weapon” was in fact a cell phone. What object Thomas may have been holding has not been identified.

Thomas suffered from depression, his sister, Marketa Thomas, told the Chronicle. Marketa Thomas also struggles with the illness, and her brother had been a vital source of support for her.

Thomas’ sister echoed the opinion of the woman who recorded her brother’s shooting.

“You could have Tased him,” she told NBC affiliate KPRC 2. “You could have clearly Tased him. He wasn’t trying to hit you. He wasn’t trying to shoot you. He wasn’t trying to do anything.”

Thomas’ family had been struggling with tragedy prior to his death. In 2016 Thomas’ wife, Sheborah Thomas, was charged with murder after drowning their two children, five-year-old Kayana Thomas and seven-year-old O’Raylan Thomas, in the bathtub. Sheborah Thomas is currently facing capital murder charges.

“Whenever he got into that mind frame, thinking about his wife and his kids, he just felt like he was alone,” Markeeta Thomas added.

“That’s my flesh and my blood,” she told the Chronicle. “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.”

The police department did not say in its release whether the officer is on duty but did say the department’s Homicide Division Special Investigations Unit and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will both be investigating.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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15 comments


  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    Is every black man (or boy), armed or not, so terrifying a monster that they are perceived as a deadly threat who MUST be shot????

  • Police in America herd in alligators, bovine creatures, rabid dogs and other retiles but the only way to deescalate situations with black men is to terminate their lives. Why is that?

  • I am a black male and when it comes to incidents like this, we should fear for our safety from the cops. But of course that defense does not work for average citizens. You can be subject to arrest if you defend yourself against attacks from others but these individuals get away with murder all the time??????????????

  • There are few indicators of mental disturbance more potent than walking around with ones pants around ones ankles. Pants around the ankles also prevent one from moving very fast, so even if Thomas continued walking toward the Deputy — after being commanded to stop — there’s no way that the Deputy could not have taken effective evasive action and gotten far enough away that he would no longer have had to “fear…for his safety” or resort to deadly force. Police continue to execute people for simply failing to immediately comply with their orders — rather than only using the minimum amount of force necessary — and it simply has to stop.

    • @granny – What’s even more chilling is the fact that the officer went for his gun first rather than his taser (if he had one), or his baton (if he had one), or better yet, attempted to speak to the man in a calming, deescalating way. This tragedy did not have to happen, and frankly I am tired of hearing people say, “he should have followed the officer’s commands. He was obviously mentally ill, and was likely incoherent and unable to understand commands. To put this in perspective, and to illustrate that this is indeed a “Black thing”, an incident occurred in Florida where a white male killed an elderly couple. When police arrived, the suspect was chewing on the face and abdomen of his male victim. Police spoke to him, tried to pull him off of the corpse, and finally tased the suspect before placing him under arrest. This was done while the suspect was acting in a violent (and disgusting) manner. Compare the suspect’s behavior to Thomas’ behavior. Someone tell me why Thomas is dead and the suspect in Florida is still alive and kicking? That is the insanity of the world we live in, one (who is white) gets a pass for violent and disgusting cannibalistic behavior, while the other (who is Black) is slain for erratic, but non-threatening behavior. It’s not safe being Black in America, ever.

  • “Police force” is the operative phrase. More often than not the ability to be able to use lethal force is the reason someone joins. I always told my children that if they ever had car trouble, or needed any kind of help, when away from home to never call the police. Their chances of survival were much greater with a passing stranger than with a policeman. This was 30 years ago, and they were white people. The culture is worse today. Time for drastic changes
    to all police departments. I know that there are some decent folk who are police; they are kind and really want to help; however, you can’t identify these few by just looking at them. Better safe than sorry.

  • Karl Strandberg

    These one-by-one acts need to stop; they are as egregious as the shootings in the public schools!

  • No Taser? Phoenix had a case in 2014 where a mentally ill woman was holding a hammer and wouldn’t put it down. She approached the officers, was shot and died. The cop (shooter) was demoted from Sargent to Officer…not equal justice. Now the police have a special unit that responds to incidents with the mentally ill. So far no mentally ill folks have been reported as being shot.

  • OMG. What is it going to take for them to stop killing us!! Please someone tell me. This is terrifying me!! I’m scared for my people. They’re killing us – we are not safe. Help us – someone, anyone. Help.

  • Notice white males who shoot up schools & kill the students in them, are handled with kid gloves 🧤 most if the tine. They are not tased, kicked, beaten or shot dead 💀 by the police 👮 or SWAT TEAM. What is the difference here?

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