CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE URGES THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE THE HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S KILLING OF DANNY RAY THOMAS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Robin K. Chand
March 27, 2018 202-225-3816
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Urges the United States Department of Justice to Investigate the Harris County Sheriff’s Killing of Danny Ray Thomas
Jackson Lee: I am also concerned to know about the extent to which de-escalation policies are employed, or ignored, by law enforcement in Houston. The Harris County Sheriff’s Department has indicated that the deputy involved in Mr. Thomas’s killing was trained to use non-lethal force and equipped with a Taser, which he did not use. We must always remember that lethal force must only be the last resort for law enforcement. To do otherwise erodes trust in the community.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, senior Member of the House Committees on Budget, Judiciary and Homeland Security, and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, released the following statement regarding the killing of Danny Ray Thomas by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department:
Once more, we are left to wonder what could have been if an unarmed African-American man was not felled by a bullet from law enforcement. Danny Ray Thomas was 34 years-old when he was shot and killed by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. Like too many before him, his killing raises serious questions about the state of law enforcement, and the interplay between communities of color and those charged to protect and serve.
I am proud of my support for law enforcement and honor the sacrifices made daily by police, but many aspects of this incident give me great pause. For example, while there was a working dashboard camera in the responding officer’s patrol car, the body camera he was wearing was turned off, and unable to capture the incident as it transpired. The severity of this oversight is compounded by the fact that the dashcam video failed to capture video images of the shooting, as it occurred out of frame from the dashboard camera. The video also shows that Mr. Thomas’s pants were lowered to his ankles, suggesting the placement of clothing on his body could mitigate any bodily harm he would cause to the officer, even if Mr. Thomas were to lunge towards the responding officer, which he did not.
We must always remember that lethal force must be the last resort for law enforcement. I am concerned to know about the extent to which de-escalation policies are employed, or ignored, by law enforcement in Houston. The Harris County Sheriff’s Department has indicated that the deputy involved in Mr. Thomas’s killing was trained to use non-lethal force and equipped with a Taser, which he did not use. I encourage a comprehensive review of this matter by all law enforcement agencies, and I call on the United States Department of Justice to determine whether the federal civil rights of Danny Ray Thomas were violated.
Before Danny Ray Thomas’s life ended prematurely and violently at the hands of law enforcement, he was plagued with mental health issues and no stranger to heartache. His two children died young at the hands of their mother, who drowned them and buried them under a neighbor’s house. Danny Ray Thomas’s killing raises serious questions, to which his family deserves answers as they lay to rest yet another of their loved ones.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is a Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.