SAN ANTONIO — A sheriff’s deputy is on trial facing first-degree murder charges, as well as a civil lawsuit for shooting an unarmed man to death following a minor automobile collision.
Former Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Thomas, 39, was charged with first-degree murder for the August 2013 shooting of Mathew Jackson, 29. Jackson died at the scene, still in his driver’s seat after Thomas shot at him eight times after getting into a fender bender.
Jackson was survived by his wife and young child, who are now suing the Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Susan Pamerleau, and Bexar County.
The lawsuit filed by Jackson’s family, which seeks $10 million in damages, gives an account of what happened:
“Apparently the two vehicles came into close contact to one another. As plaintiff Jackson approached defendant Thomas’ vehicle, defendant Thomas discharged his weapon approximately eight times, striking and killing plaintiff Jackson.”
“Plaintiff Jackson managed to return to his own vehicle, but died in the driver’s seat, with the door open. Plaintiff Jackson was unarmed, no weapon of any kind was found on his person or in his vehicle.”
“Defendant Thomas’s actions, which resulted in first-degree murder charges, are so outrageous that they could only be perpetuated by an employee who had no basic understanding of police procedure and force continuum.”
The lawsuit also says that Thomas testified that he “heard gunshots,” citing it as an excuse for why he shot and killed Jackson. The lawsuit also says the sheriff’s office and county share in the responsibility for Jackson’s death, having kept Thomas employed despite numerous warning signs that he was prone to violence.
According to an official statement, the sheriff’s office waited six months to fire Thomas after the shooting, holding out for an indictment that came in February 2014.
A court date has not yet been set for Thomas’s criminal case.