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Compton jury awards $8 million to parents of man killed by deputies

City News Service | 6/14/2013, 4:02 p.m.
Compton Superior Court

COMPTON, Calif. — A jury today awarded $8 million to the parents of a man killed in a deputy-involved shooting in  Willowbrook in 2010.

A Compton Superior Court jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 days before finding in favor of Robert Thomas Sr. and Barbara Massey. Their son, 21-year-old Robert Thomas Jr., was shot at about 10:17 p.m. Nov. 8, 2010, near East 123rd Street and Wilmington Avenue.

The couple’s attorney, John Sweeney, said the jury of seven men and five women rejected Deputy Victor Lemus’ claim that Thomas was armed at the time.

Thomas Sr. told ABC7 shortly after the shooting that his son was shot in the back.

“They chased my son down and shot him ... in the back,” Thomas said.

“They killed my son, man.”

Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Dave Dolson said in 2010 that deputies partrolling the area came across a party, saw Thomas acting suspiciously and tried to talk to him, but he ran away.

“They gave chase,” Dolson said. “Ultimately, the individual reached for a handgun that was in his pocket, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred.

The individual was transported to a local hospital, where he later died.”

A handgun believed to be the suspect’s was recovered at the scene, Grubb said.

After the shooting, some angry people gathered at the scene, prompting deputies to call for backup between Compton Avenue and Wilmington Avenue.