Authorities in Houston continue their investigation into an incident in which a man was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy. Cell phone video shows Danny Ray Thomas, with his pants around his ankles, approaching the Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who is backing away with his gun pointed at Thomas’ chest.
The video is jumpy and doesn’t show what happens next. But moments later it shows Thomas lying prone in the street as the deputy attends to him. Thomas, 34, died from a single gunshot wound.
“We hold the public’s trust as sacred, and we know that this trust must be earned every single day,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. “I will personally see to it that our investigation is conducted fairly, thoroughly, and expeditiously.”
Markeeta Thomas, Danny’s sister, said she didn’t believe the deputy needed to use lethal force against her brother.
“You clearly could have Tased him,” she said, her voice thick with tears. “He wasn’t trying to shoot you. He wasn’t trying to do anything.”
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said no weapon was recovered. Because the shooting occurred in the jurisdiction of the Houston Police Department, that agency will conduct a joint investigation with the district attorney’s Office, said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Police said witnesses saw Thomas in the intersection with his pants around his ankles about 1 p.m. Thursday, while “talking to himself and hitting vehicles as they passed by.”
Thomas hit a white vehicle, police said, prompting an altercation between himself and the driver. The deputy, who has not been named, saw the altercation from his squad car as he drove up to the intersection, the release said. He exited his car and ordered Thomas to stop, the news release said. According to police, Thomas ignored the commands.
“Fearing for his safety, the deputy discharged his duty weapon, striking Thomas once in the chest,” the police statement said. Thomas was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead, Gonzalez told reporters.
Thomas said the video appears to show her brother was not in his right mind, as he had been dealing with a family tragedy. His wife, Sheborah Thomas, was charged in 2016 in the drowning their two children, ages 7 and 5, in a bathtub.