The Texas deputy who fatally shot an unarmed Black man who was behaving erratically at Houston intersection last month has been terminated, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced last Friday.
Sheriff’s deputy Cameron Brewer, who is also Black, violated departmental policy on use of force when he shot and killed 34-year-old Danny Ray Thomas on March 22, the agency said in a statement. Brewer was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, pending an internal affairs investigation. The incident came just days after the fatal police shooting of Sacramento man Stephon Clark.
“The brave men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are called upon to make life-or-death decisions on a daily basis — and we take that responsibility very seriously,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement. “We hold the community’s trust as sacred, and we will continue to support our deputies with clear policies and the valuable training they need to protect the lives of all our residents.”
Brewer wasn’t wearing his newly issued body camera at the time of the fatal encounter, but a dash cam on the inside of his cruiser captured part of the incident, according to The New York Times. Thomas, who seemed to be having a mental episode, is seen at an intersection with his pants on the ground while shouting at another man when the deputy car arrives to the scene. Thomas can then be seen walking toward Brewer, despite the deputy commands to stop and get on the ground.
That’s when the sound of a single gunshot rings out.
On Friday, the department confirmed Thomas was unarmed. Gonzalez said Brewer was carrying a Taser at the time but failed to use it before fatally shooting Thomas.
The Harris County Deputies’ Organization expressed condolences for Thomas’ family but said it stood behind Brewer’s split-second decision and disagreed with Gonzalez’s move to fire the veteran deputy.
Brewer first joined the Harris County sheriff’s department in 2006. The incident is now the subject of an independent investigation by the Houston Police Department and as well as a civil lawsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.