A man who witnessed his brother being shot by sheriff’s deputies investigating a domestic violence call in Lancaster in 2020 is suing Los Angeles County for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
James Thomas, brother of the late 62-year-old Michael Thomas, is seeking unspecified damages, after his brother later died at a hospital.
Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department monitor Merrick Bobbs issued a report in 2010 expressing concern about possible racial bias, and a year later the U.S. Justice Department began a pattern-and-practice investigation into racial discrimination by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department toward minorities in the Antelope Valley, the lawsuit states.
On June 11, 2020, at about 5:20 a.m., deputies reportedly entered the home of Michael Thomas, who was disabled with missing fingers on one hand, the lawsuit states. The deputies said they were responding to a domestic violence incident, even though no such event had occurred and Michael Thomas asked them to leave, the suit states.
However, the deputies accosted and shot Michael Thomas, who was an unarmed man and posed no danger to them, the lawsuit states. James Thomas was present and “witnessed his brother dying,” the lawsuit states.
Deputies said previously that Michael Thomas’ girlfriend called 911 to report the domestic violence incident, but never spoke to the operator. She left the phone line open and several minutes of arguing and fighting between the caller and the suspect could be heard in the background, the department said.