Family of man shot and killed by former HCSO deputy still waits for justice 4 years later

Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Family says man's mental health ignored when deputy shot him
A month after the deadly shooting, the deputy was fired from the Harris County Sheriff's Office, a move which he has since appealed. Now, the family is heading to civil court.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- More than four years after Danny Ray Thomas was shot and killed by a Harris County sheriff's deputy, the family is still seeking some sense of justice.

"March 12 was the last day I hugged my dad. It was the last day I was able to tell my dad that I loved him," Malikiya Thomas said. Ten days later her father was killed.

For the first time since her father's death, Malikiya spoke publicly as tears streamed down her cheeks.

"Our father was taken from us by a (deputy)," she said.

The deadly shooting happened in March 2018.

Former Harris County Sherrif's Office Deputy Cameron Brewer drove up to an argument in a Greenspoint roadway.

Danny Thomas' family attorney says he was exhibiting signs of a mental breakdown.

His pants were at his ankles, he was foaming at the mouth and did not follow commands.

His sister said what the dash camera video doesn't show is his internal anguish after his wife, Sheborah Thomas, drowned two of their children in the bathtub in 2016. The family said Danny Thomas' odd behavior was a symptom of a mental crisis.

RELATED: Mother who drowned two children in bathtub is due in court, HPD says

The Houston woman accused of drowning two children was previously arrested for theft and failure to identify to a police officer.

"When law enforcement is called out to a mental health situation, I expect it to be handled as such. Not in a criminal manner. And, that's how my brother was handled as if he was doing something criminal," his sister, Marketta Thomas-Smith, said.

Investigators said Brewer gave Danny Thomas commands that he did not follow.

As he continued to approach Brewer, the deputy shot Danny Thomas instead of using his taser.

Brewer was fired a month later, with HCSO citing he broke the Use of Force Policy.

He was later charged with aggravated assault by a public servant, but a jury acquitted him in 2019.

A federal civil rights lawsuit was also dismissed, and now the family is seeking recourse in state civil court.

"You all, the citizens of Harris County, have to decide whether it is reasonable for a person having a mental health crisis, with his pants down around his ankles, and his hands clearly visible, having no weapon, is it reasonable for a (deputy) to shoot and kill him in cold blood?" the family's attorney, Ben Crump, said.

"What Cameron Brewer did was objectively unreasonable and unjustified in terms of the use of deadly force," co-counsel Vince Colella said.

As they continue to pursue justice, this family also wants mental health awareness for Black and Brown neighbors.

"If anybody out there is struggling with mental health please don't hold it in. Speak out. I'm with you. You're not alone," Thomas-Smith said.

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