Unarmed Black Man Fatally Shot By Police In Houston With His Pants Around His Ankles
Thirty-four-year-old Danny Ray Thomas was the father of two children who died in 2016.
Danny Ray Thomas, a 34-year-old black man from Houston, Texas, was shot and killed by a police officer late last week, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A deputy from the Harris County sheriff department responded to reports of an altercation between a motorist and Thomas. Callers said Thomas was mumbling to himself while walking down an intersection with his pants down.
"Thomas then struck a white vehicle, and the driver exited and engaged in a physical altercation with the suspect," the Houston Police said.
According to footage, the deputy broke up the altercation and shouted commands at Thomas with his gun drawn. Thomas ignored those commands and "continued to advance" toward him. The deputy then fired a single shot. "Fearing for his safety, the deputy discharged his duty weapon, striking Thomas once in the chest," the department stated.
Thomas later died at the hospital. The deputy was not injured, and no weapons were found on the scene despite the deputy's claims that Thomas had "some object" in his hand. The city's police department is currently investigating the shooting.
This week, the Houston Chronicle released cell phone video of the event. The video does not show the single shot that was fired, because a car passes in front of the cell phone's lens right as the deputy fires on Thomas.
"Knowing that he was okay when I woke up every day made me fine," Danny Ray's sister, Marketa Thomas, told the Houston Chronicle. "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."
Marketa said that both she and Danny Ray struggled with depression and that she relied on him for support.
Thomas' life was riddled with tragedy. According to his family members, he was the father of two children who died in 2016 after their mother allegedly drowned them in a bathtub.
"That's my flesh and my blood," Marketa Thomas said. "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."
"Our condolences go to the family of this individual," said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. "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."
Sharon Watkins-Jones, director of political strategies of the ACLU of Texas said “It’s difficult to imagine how this shooting could possibly be justified. We must demand that our law enforcement agencies, who are sworn to protect our communities, be held accountable whenever deadly force is used unlawfully,” the Associated Press reported.
“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.” Watkins-Jones said.