Texas Deputy Faces 1st-Degree Murder Charge

     SAN ANTONIO (CN) – A Texas deputy sheriff awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge faces a civil lawsuit from the family of the man he allegedly shot eight times after a fender bender.
     Anthony Thomas, 39, a former Bexar County deputy sheriff, is charged with first-degree murder for the August 2013 shooting death of Mathew Charles Jackson. Jackson, 29, died in his driver’s seat after Thomas fired eight shots at him from own car after a minor traffic accident, the family claims in Federal Court.
     Jackson’s family, including his widow and young child, sued Thomas, Bexar County, its Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Susan Pamerleau, on June 24.
     The family claims that Thomas was driving his personal vehicle, but wearing his sheriff’s uniform and carrying his service weapon, when the two men pulled onto the shoulder of a San Antonio road.
     “Apparently the two vehicles came into close contact to one another,” the Jacksons say in their complaint. “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.”
     The family says that Thomas, a 16-year veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff’s office, “has alleged on numerous occasions that he ‘heard’ gunshots and that was the reason he shot and killed plaintiff Jackson,” and that Thomas “has unequivocally stated that he was on duty at the time of the shooting.”
     They say the sheriff’s office kept Thomas on the force despite red flags in his personnel file, “and should have known that his tendencies toward insubordination and violent outbursts made him unfit to serve.”
     “Defendant Thomas’ 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 complaint states.
     “No trained deputy sheriff shoots an unarmed man at 4:00 a.m. after an assignation with his mistress. No trained deputy sheriff fires his weapon from his car seat, attempts to leave the scene and then fabricates a complete lie about the circumstances.”
     James Keith, chief communications officer for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.
     “Unfortunately, we’re not able to comment on pending litigation,” Keith said.
     The sheriff’s office said in a statement that Thomas was terminated after his February 2014 felony indictment.
     The Jacksons claim Thomas had problems following orders, a tendency to violence, and was visiting his girlfriend, while in uniform, “at an hour in which he was supposed to be working neighborhood security,” and that this was “well known” in the department.
     “There were numerous red flags in defendant Thomas’ personnel file, which would have alerted any diligent Sheriff’s Department that one of their deputies, clearly was going through a transition in his life, which had rendered him unfit for duty,” the complaint states.
     Thomas is awaiting trial in his criminal case, for which a date has not been set.
     The family seeks damages of $10 million for civil rights violations. They are represented by Tim Maloney with Maloney & Campolo, in San Antonio.

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