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Vol. 80/No. 1      January 4, 2016

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Protests in Paradise say, ‘Charge
cop who killed Andrew Thomas!’

Alicia Brogden Photography

Dec. 19 protest in Paradise, California, demands cop who killed Andrew Thomas be charged. “Drinking and driving or not, Andrew didn’t deserve to be shot,” said friend Joshua Turner.
“That police officer ought to be fired, there’s no question about it,” Dick Miller, 88, told the Militant by phone from Paradise, California. He was referring to Paradise cop Patrick Feaster who shot Andrew Thomas, 26, in the neck Nov. 25 after Thomas’ SUV crashed. Darien Ehorn, Thomas’ wife, was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. Thomas died three weeks later.

According to police, Feaster followed the SUV after Thomas and Ehorn left a bar a little before midnight. Less than a mile away from the bar, the SUV hit a highway divider and flipped on its side.

Feaster, who is Caucasian as are Thomas and Ehorn, is well-known in Paradise. In 2012 the Chico News featured him in an article headlined “Personal Mission: Paradise Cop Pursues Drunken Drivers in Honor of His Late Uncle.”

“Whether or not Andrew was driving and drinking, he was trying to get out of the vehicle and he didn’t deserve to be shot,” Thomas’ friend Joshua Turner, who has organized a number of protests against the shooting, told Channel 7 News.

Police video shows Feaster walk right by Ehorn, who is lying in the street gravely injured, then pulling his gun and shooting Thomas as he attempts to get out of the overturned vehicle. Thomas falls back inside. Feaster looks inside the SUV at Thomas and then, still ignoring Ehorn, pulls out his flashlight and appears to be looking for his spent bullet casing.

It’s not until other police officers arrive on the scene that a call is made to get an ambulance. After another officer begins aiding Ehorn, Feaster still doesn’t mention to anyone he has fired his weapon.

The cops order Thomas to get out of the vehicle. When Thomas says he’s been shot, Feaster replies, “No you haven’t.” After Thomas tells the cops a second time he’s been shot, and despite the fact he says “the cop” shot him, the other officers speculate among themselves that he had been shot at the bar. It’s only then, 11 minutes after the shooting, that Feaster admits he fired his gun — by accident he says — but doesn’t think he wounded Thomas. “I wasn’t even pointing at him,” he claimed.

During all this time none of the cops give any medical care to Thomas, whose spinal cord was severed by the bullet.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey initially said no charges would be filed against Feaster, but that he would charge Thomas with drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter by intoxication in the death of Ehorn.

“I saw the video and it upset me,” said Miller, a retired construction contractor. “I’ve been hunting all my life and I’ve never pulled the trigger accidentally.”

Protests demand ‘Fire Feaster!’

“Fire Feaster,” “Ramsey Step Down,” “Stop Killer Cops” and “All Lives Matter: Where is the Justice? We Want it” were among the handwritten signs at a Dec. 19 protest Turner organized.

Miller joined the action, saying it was the first time he has ever protested in his life. Other protests have been organized.

Feaster “needs to be brought up on criminal charges,” Bert Morrisey, whose son knew Thomas, told the Paradise Post at a Dec. 12 protest. “There was no reason to pull a gun and shoot an unarmed kid.”

“The officer was wrong and the DA was wrong,” Judy Morrisey told the Post at the protest. “I think if they admitted it, people would not be so upset.”

“It’s incredible, the story he’s trying to sell to the public,” Wes Oppenheim told the Post during the Dec. 19 demonstration. “His answer is that he ‘might’ have shot him. Are you kidding me?”

After the protests and Thomas’ death Dec. 19, the District Attorney said he was now considering filing charges against Feaster for criminal negligence, but would not decide before the new year.

“The question is would Thomas still be alive today had Feaster told his superiors earlier,” Ramsey said. “That’s a medical determination that has to be made.”
Related articles:
‘Prosecute Minneapolis cops who killed Jamar Clark’
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