O∞cer shot man – then didn’t tell for 11 min­utes

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Cleve R. Woot­son Jr.

As Paradise po­lice Of­fi­cer Pa­trick Feaster ap­proached the smok­ing, over­turned truck that he had been chas­ing in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia, a dazed Andrew Thomas started to climb out of the driver’s side win­dow.

Thomas’ head and shoul­ders cleared the ve­hi­cle, and Feaster un­hol­stered the pis­tol on his right hip.

Feaster took aim and fired one shot, hit­ting Thomas in the neck — and the in­jured man dropped back into truck’s cab.

Then, the of­fi­cer ra­dioed dis­patch­ers.

“I’ve got an un­re­spon­sive fe­male,” he said, ac­cord­ing to dash­board-cam­era footage. “I’ve got a man in the car re­fus­ing to get out.”

It was the be­gin­ning of an 11-minute se­quence of events that would cost Feaster his job and his free­dom.

In the en­su­ing court case, pros­e­cu­tors de­tailed as­pects of the fa­tal shoot­ing. But ju­rors also heard what Feaster didn’t do.

He didn’t tell the next of­fi­cer on the scene or the re­spond­ing paramedics that Thomas had been shot.

He didn’t ra­dio dis­patch­ers about the dis­charge of his ser­vice weapon.

And Feaster didn’t say any­thing when an in­jured Thomas told an­other of­fi­cer that he’d been shot and that of­fi­cer re­sponded, “No, you haven’t.”

In­stead, Feaster ap­pears to search the ground for shell cas­ings, ac­cord­ing to the video.

Eleven min­utes af­ter he shot Thomas, Feaster told a com­mand­ing of­fi­cer he had fired a shot.

On Fri­day, a judge sen­tenced Feaster to six months in jail, two months af­ter a jury found him guilty of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and nearly a year af­ter Thomas died of com­pli­ca­tions from the gun­shot wound.

Feaster left the depart­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

Feaster faced a max­i­mum of five years in prison in the killing, but Butte County Su­pe­rior Court Judge James F. Reil­ley noted the of­fi­cer’s re­morse and the bizarre cir­cum­stances of the shoot­ing, the Chico En­ter­prise re­ported. Pros­e­cu­tors had sought four years, ac­cord­ing to the En­ter­prise.

Butte County District At­tor­ney Mike Ram­sey ini­tially de­clined to press charges against the of­fi­cer. Three weeks af­ter the shoot­ing, Ram­sey told re­porters that pros­e­cu­tors couldn’t prove Feaster in­tended to shoot.

But amid the out­rage and protests that fol­lowed, the district at­tor­ney brought the charges of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter charges.

Thomas’ shoot­ing hap­pened as po­lice in the United States are un­der in­creased scru­tiny for us­ing lethal force. Thomas was one of 991 peo­ple fa­tally shot by of­fi­cers in 2015, ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Post data­base of the killings. So far in 2016, 896 peo­ple have been fa­tally shot by of­fi­cers. In this case, both the of­fi­cer and the per­son who was shot are white.

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