Civil lawsuit filed against former deputy in 2018 fatal shooting of unarmed man in middle of street in Greenspoint

Here's what we know

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-counsel, Vince Colella, filed a civil lawsuit against former Harris County Sheriff Deputy Cameron Brewer in the 2018 death of Danny Ray Thomas.

In March of 2018, 45-year-old Danny Ray Thomas was captured on dashcam and cellphone video wandering through a Greenspoint intersection with his pants around his ankles, slapping cars.

Brewer shot and killed Thomas, who wouldn’t listen to his commands and kept approaching Brewer, according to Brewer’s attorneys in the criminal case.

Brewer was found not guilty of aggravated assault by a public servant.

“For whatever reason, we still can’t understand why Danny Ray Thomas, who was moving at a snail’s pace with his pants around his ankles, his hands both very visible showing that he has no weapon, but yet instead of the officer giving him a helping hand, he gave him a bullet and it killed him,” said Crump at a Tuesday (Sept. 20) news conference outside the civil court.

The civil lawsuit against Brewer alleges he violated Thomas’ state constitutional rights and was negligent when he assaulted and battered Thomas, according to attorney Colella.

“We did this because the federal judge permitted us to do this when he dismissed our federal claims against the officer and the city. This judge has allowed us to go forward with our state law claims,” Colella said. “Additionally, we have filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals because we believe once this panel, the fifth circuit panel, sees the evidence, sees the video, hears the depositions, testimonies and reads it they will understand that what Cameron brewer did was objectively unreasonable and unjustified in terms of use of deadly force.”

At the news conference, Thomas’ family said they were suffering from trauma following the shooting.

“It’s been four years. It has not gotten easy,” said Thomas’ sister, Marketta Thomas-Smith. “We continue to fight. We will not give up until justice is served. I just want everyone to know mental health matters.”

Two of Thomas’ children were present Tuesday. His daughter, Malikiya Thomas, now 19 years old, was 15 at the time of the shooting and recalls the last time she saw her dad.

“We talked about how he wanted to become a better father. He wanted to be a better person. He just wanted to be better for his kids,” she said. “March 12 was the last day I hugged my dad. March 12, that was the last day I was able to tell my dad that I loved him.”

Brewer’s legal defense team said at the time of the shooting, Thomas was high on PCP and was approaching Brewer, causing Brewer to back into traffic.

“When the facts of the case came out before the jury, what they heard was: ‘the taser was completely ineffective. It would not have worked on someone high on PCP,’ and the state didn’t contest that. He was acting in self-defense,” said Brewer’s then criminal attorney, Lisa Andrews.

After Brewer was found not guilty, he told KPRC 2 that he was relieved. He said when it comes to the officer-involved shooting, he had no regrets.

“If it was anyone there and the situation was (the) exact same, I would have reacted the same way, only because I was protecting people,” Brewer said.

Thomas-Smith said there are several forms of justice in her eyes, “it looks like happiness. It looks like a weight lifted off our shoulders, that’s what it looks like. It looks like Cameron Brewer being prosecuted for what he has done to my brother, that’s what it looks like.”

Brewer no longer works at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. He resigned eight days after the Civil Service Commission reinstated him.

Efforts to reach Brewer were unsuccessful.


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