What started as a routine check of Kishon Thomas, a 27-year-old black man who was asleep, drunk, in his green Camaro at a gas station in Albuquerque ended when cops fired 16 shots and killed him.
The three policemen who shot that day claimed They saw Thomas carrying a revolver that was later found in his cabin with a single bullet in the room. Police can be seen retrieving a weapon after the shooting in the body cam footage of the episode. They also shared photos of an additional magazine that was found in the car.
However, the August incident led to protests, a brawl between police and the local chapter of the ACLU, and a lawsuit brought by the family for more video and documentation of the incident.
Now, experts who have reviewed body camera footage shared by the Thomas family with The Daily Beast have cast doubt on what they say amounts to a lethal combination of verbal abuse and tactical error.
The family has filed notice that they are filing a lawsuit for the loss of Thomas’ life, according to their attorneys.
“Instead of de-escalating the situation, they escalated – all while talking about trash,” David Thomas, the man’s father, told The Daily Beast.
Thomas’ family said their son’s murder is yet another example of how the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to damage the community’s trust in the police, making the case even as the feds imposed — and, more recently, it was watered down —censorship From the APD, questions remain in the community about the department’s reform efforts.
“That’s bad,” argued Dr. Calvani Touré, a police expert, associate professor at Mount Saint Mary’s and a fellow at Yale University, when reviewing footage provided by The Daily Beast. “I would put all the responsibility at the foot of Albuquerque PD.”
Gilbert Gallegos Jr., a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, told The Daily Beast, “In this case, Thomas admitted that he was intoxicated, yet he was handling a firearm. Thomas also told the officers that the firearm was in the trunk, but it turned out that he was He was inside the car. He asked to be allowed to go in the car to get the phone back. But no phone was ever found in the car.”
Attempts to reach the officers involved in the shooting – Marcos Flores, Kenneth Skanes and Dustin Ketchum – were unsuccessful. None of them was charged with a crime.
In a statement, Sean Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, told The Daily Beast, “The department is subject to an approval decree from the Department of Justice and we strictly follow the Constitutional Policing and this is an example [of] current training. This training is confusing and often endangers the officers, in an effort to preserve the constitutional rights of the individual.”
At their public press conference in September, the Albuquerque Police Department showed the officers parts of the body camera video, including when Thomas initially left the car, just before the shooting, as well as the shooting itself. Neither Thomas’ hands nor the gun were visible in the body camera footage in the crucial moments leading up to the shooting.
But the show did not include the hottest parts of the exchange with the officers, as captured in additional body camera footage obtained by the family.
in the evaluation In that video, Tori referred to what he described as A series of slips.
Among them, according to Tori, who is himself a former policeman: the police He curses and then threatens a drunk Thomas with arrest after saying he wasn’t in trouble, letting Thomas get into his pockets a few times and back to the car’s cabin after he confesses to having a weapon.
Touré explained that he does not feel “exhilarated” to find fault with the police.
“When [Thomas] Finally sitting on the sidewalk. Toure said, “Look, I won’t be pressured.” “He’s like the adjuster really like the instigator. The agitator goes in and starts the struggle and then either gets out of it or gets away from it.”
At a news conference last month, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina acknowledged that the incident was not exactly an example of original policing practice.
“We can be better at controlling our frustrations and the way we communicate with individuals,” he said. However, the city did not blame the officers.
“We have seen a whole series of this over the entirety of the past year in our community, where the combination of firearms and alcohol has had disastrous outcomes for society,” he said.
Thomas’ father retracted the president’s allegations, noting that the local police force had a long history of misconduct that had drawn continued federal attention, including, as the union leader admitted, from the Department of Justice.
“No,” David Thomas replied in an interview on Friday. “The reason we have problems here in Albuquerque and why not just me but a lot of people don’t trust the police department is that the police are not held accountable.”
On August 28, the police arrived at the scene after a worried passerby called: a worker at a gas station in Valero. The woman had called 911 to ask someone to check on a man whose car had been parked at the station for hours.
“In street slang, he “gives a clinic” in a few seconds. He never uses the word procedural justice, but he definitely comes close to it. It is unfortunate that he lost his life.“
– Dr. Calvani Touré, police expert
Extended body camera footage shows police rapidly escalating the confrontation from initial expression of concern to eventually cursing and threatening Thomas.
Thomas’s car was off, and the cops woke him up and told him to get out – pointing to each other that they couldn’t accuse him of drunk driving.
“You’re not in trouble, just stand up and get out,” said one of the officers, and also asks him to sit down.
Thomas complied, then said, “I’m not going to take a seat” and proceeds to light a cigarette, moving slowly, obviously very drunk.
“You don’t want to have a seat, [sic] Do what I tell you, then we can do it the hard way,” says one officer.
They started squabbling over whether he had an open container in the car or not, and the police started cursing Thomas.
“Okay dude. I haven’t had a hard time, shoot,” says Thomas before leaning to the side of the car.
“Yes you did. I told you to take a seat, and you said no, then you want to play the idiot and say you don’t have an open container when you are in the cup holder,” an officer replies.
Insults and controversy heat up, as one officer asks, “What the hell are you doing?”
Thomas answers, “I’m having a hard time.”
When the cops asked him why he was drinking in the car, at risk of hurting himself or others, he replied, “I didn’t hurt anyone.”
Then, later, a policeman asked, “What’s your problem?”
Thomas begins to respond in kind.
“Don’t ask me what my problem is…Don’t hit me with aggression because that’s not how the damned police work.”
Torey, the policing expert, suggested that Thomas was of interest in his (less-than-sober) analysis.
“He calls it,” Tori told The Daily Beast. “I’m just sitting here,” he calls it. He’s like, “This is not what the police are supposed to be.” He expects professionalism and he does not understand it.”
Toure notice that procedural justiceThe perception of a fair process by those who deal with the police has been identified as a The essential foundation The President’s Task Force on Twenty-First Century Policing. He said Thomas’ death was preceded by the opposite: insults, escalations, and mixed messages.
How does this destroy the relations between the police and the community? How does this affect trust? In street slang, he “gives a clinic” in a few seconds. He never uses the word procedural justice, but he definitely comes close to it. “It is unfortunate that he lost his life,” Toure added.
There is one bright spot in the video, Toure said. Officer Skeens arrives as a backup and levels up with Thomas about why he needs to get away from the pumps and sit down: Because smoking next to a gas pump is dangerous.
“I respect that, brother,” says Thomas, before moving to the sidewalk and seated as requested.
After a moment of quiet conversation, things take a turn for the worse.
In the body camera footage, Thomas is asked to call someone to pick him up. He asks to retrieve a phone from the car before telling the cops he has a gun in the trunk, and the officer hands a gun magazine out of his pants pocket.
One of the officers replied, “Okay, cool, I’ll give it back to you – don’t worry…just grab your phone.”
This was a strange decision, according to Ian Adams, a police expert at the University of South Carolina.
“From a tactical point of view, why is he allowed to get back into the car after there is evidence of a weapon already in his pocket? He told the Daily Beast.
As Thomas was slowly advancing through the front of his car, Officer Flores suddenly shouted, “Pistol, revolver, revolver!” The three officers shot Thomas down in a volley of 16 bullets.
The position of my hand and Thomas’ gun at that moment are not visible in any of the videos posted on the body. The rifle was found with one bullet in her chamber, but no magazine, according to the APD. Another magazine was found in the car.
“I know my son, society knows him well, and it’s hard to accept him going out this way.“
– Laura Thomas
“Damn, why did he do that?” A policeman later shouted over the body cam footage.
The event is still under investigation by APS, but the three officers are expected to return to work in September, according to Albuquerque Magazinewhich was previously mentioned on the case.
Neither the APD nor the police union has commented on the officers’ current working status.
“I think this is a major issue of officer safety and an issue of officer training, so Albuquerque has this responsibility for this loss of life,” Touré reiterated.
Thomas family agrees. After reviewing the extended body camera footage, his father described the video as “terrifying”. Thomas’ parents and great-uncle also said that their son legally owned a firearm, which the police did not object to.
Kishon’s mother Laura Thomas remembered her son as a young man who loved his brother, video games and sports and had a new passion for travel.
“With your kids, you know what you have and what you don’t, you know,” she told The Daily Beast. “As I tell the lawyer, if I knew my son was all about that life and want[ed] For shooting people and joining gangs, in all that crazy life I can accept, and I will totally accept. But I know my son, society knows him well, and it’s hard to accept him going out this way.”
for its part, Thomas’ great uncle Ronnie Thomas cited APD’s ugly history, questioning why anyone would believe what the cops said.
“In terms of actual shooting, anyone with common sense would say, ‘How did you even get to this point? “