Paradise, CA -- Andrew Thomas, 26, made a deadly decision to get behind the wheel after he'd been drinking on Thanksgiving night. With his 23-year-old wife, Darien Ehorn in the passenger's seat, Thomas left the Canteena Bar and was immediately pursued by Paradise police officer Patrick Feaster.
In a pursuit that barely lasted a minute, Thomas loses control of his Toyota Four-Runner, hit the median and flipped over. Tragically, Ehorn was ejected from the vehicle and died on the scene.
Officer Feaster then gets out of his vehicle, gun drawn, and as Thomas attempts to get out of the vehicle, in a likely attempt to check on his wife, the cop shoots him in the neck.
Thomas posed absolutely no threat to the officer who was 10-20 feet away from Thomas when he fired. There was no possible way the department could spin the shooting into Feaster somehow fearing for his life. So, they did something entirely different.
They claimed it was an accident.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced on Tuesday that Feaster would not face any charges, claiming that Feaster's gun merely "went off" when it struck Thomas in the neck, hitting him in the C7 and T1 vertebrae, which will likely mean he will never walk again.
If this truly were an accidental shooting, Feaster would have probably reported firing his gun. However, that didn' happen.
When backup arrived on the scene, Feaster said nothing of discharging his firearm. For 11 minutes, Thomas lay bleeding out in the vehicle before anyone even found the shot.
Only when the commanding officer on the scene suggested an investigator return to the Canteena to find out if Thomas had been shot at the bar did Feaster reveal he'd pulled the trigger.
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According to Ramsey, there were multiple factors investigators used to determine the shooting to be accidental, conveniently igoring the fact that Feaster tried to cover it up.
Ramsey, in some weird play on words, said the evidence shows the shooting to be accidental, and possibly negligent, but not criminally so. “This shooting is not justified, but also not criminal."
He then went on to describe things that are not at all present in the video, such as Feaster being "surprised by the gun's firing."
“The dash cam video shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the guns firing. The pistol discharges in mid-stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a stutter step indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally, officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots. There was no second shot and the officer immediately holstered his weapon after the discharge.”
The flinch and the step were not present, and, there was no need to fire a second shot as Thomas collapsed back into the vehicle immediately after the first one.
Thomas will certainly deserve the jail time that he gets for negligently killing his wife. But the bullet in his neck also warrants jail time. Unfortunately, because the person who put that bullet there wears a uniform and a badge, he will not see any.
Since the shooting, Feaster has been on paid administrative leave pending an 'internal' investigation. But, rest assured, since the DA decided not to file charges, there is no possible way that the department will.
Thomas, who had a blood alcohol concentration of .15, and who may never walk again, is expected to face driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter charges.