Video, 911 call released as authorities investigate death of Pasadena man
PASADENA, Calif. (FOX 11/ CNS) - Video footage and the audio recording of a 911 call related to a deadly struggle involving a knife wielding Pasadena man and the police officers who deployed a Taser in an effort to restrain him were made available Friday by investigators.
The man, identified by family members as Reginald ``J.R.'' Thomas and who was described as mentally unstable by his girlfriend, died at the scene of the confrontation, which occurred shortly after 2 a.m. Friday at an apartment
complex where he lived in the 200 block of East Orange Grove Boulevard.
An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of death. Thomas was 36 years old and had eight children and one on the way, according to his pregnant girlfriend.
His death sparked anger among some residents who gathered at the scene demanding more information and confronting a sheriff's official who arrived to brief reporters.
A crowd of around 100 people marched Friday night in protest of Thomas' death. The group started at the shooting scene, then made its way to police headquarters at 207 Garfield Ave. before proceeding through the city's Old Town.
No arrests were reported, authorities said.
According to a police statement, officers received a call at 2:20 a.m. Friday ``regarding a domestic disturbance with a suspect at the location armed with a knife. Officers responded to the scene and encountered an African American man armed with a knife.
In the released 911 call, the caller, who is believed to be Thomas' brother, tells a police dispatcher Thomas was armed with a knife and acting strangely but had not threatened anyone.
When the dispatcher asked if the suspect had any mental illnesses, the caller replied that he didn't know. The dispatcher also asked if the suspect was on drugs and the caller replied that he was.
The sheriff's department reported that when officers arrived, the man had a large knife under his left arm and a fire extinguisher in his right hand, and he refused orders to drop both.
A Taser was deployed, causing Thomas to drop both items, according to the sheriff's department.
``The male was still not cooperative with the verbal commands given by the officers, and a second Taser was deployed, which seemed to have little effect on the male,'' according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Sheriff's
In the ensuing struggle with officers, Thomas continued to be uncooperative, Rouzan said.
"The officers applied a hobble restraint around the male's feet, in order to control his legs,'' according to the deputy. "The male was then taken into custody.''
While in custody, Thomas ``went into distress and stopped breathing,'' Rouzan said.
Officers started CPR, which was continued by arriving paramedics, who eventually pronounced the man dead at the scene, according to Rouzan.
The man had attempted to re-enter an occupied apartment after officers arrived, Pasadena police said.
Sheriff's Capt. Steve Katz, whose department is assisting Pasadena police with the investigation, later elaborated on what happened.
"The officers monitored his condition while he was in custody and the fire department was en route responding to the location in order to treat the individual,'' Katz said.
"While he was being monitored, the officers immediately identified that he was in distress, the restraints were immediately removed, and the officers began life-saving efforts, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation,'' Katz said
"Those efforts continued on the part of the police officers on scene until they were relieved by paramedics. The fire department continued those efforts ... however, ultimately, the suspect passed away.''
No shots were fired during the encounter, according to police.
Shainie Lindsay, who told reporters at the scene she was Thomas' longtime partner and had four children with him, said he called police himself for help.
"He's bipolar, he's crazy,'' she said.
"They know he's on Social Security. They know he's 5150,'' Lindsay said, referring to the official code for a psychiatric confinement. "It's not the first run-in with him. He called the police on himself. He wanted help.''
Lindsay said Thomas didn't comply because he was in a daze. "He was not responding because he was not, he was just out of it basically,'' Lindsay said.
Lindsay said he retreated into a room and slammed the door on the officers, who managed to pry their way inside.
``They was wrestling with him, was kicking him in the head and beating him with the baton stick,'' Lindsay said. "Then, after that, they was doing CPR and he was dead.''
Lindsay told reporters she is six months pregnant.
VIDEO of Friday press conference:
VIDEO of protest in Pasadena:
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