See bottom for update on Feaster's longstanding interest in strong drunk driving enforcement
Officer Patrick Feaster in Paradise, California came upon the scene of a drunk driving wreck on Thanksgiving night. As the driver Andrew Thomas dragged his body out of the window, vertically, Feaster, very calmly from what the video shows, shot him, possibly twice though the official report says no to that, then calmly holstered his weapon.
Thomas was not killed, but "the shot hit Thomas in the C7 and T1 vertebrae and could lead to him being paralyzed for life," reports Action News Now. Video of the shooting can be found at that link as well.
Feaster then refers to his dispatch to a "man in the car who refuses to get out." Why might Thomas not be getting out? Well, Feaster had just shot him, though he does not mention that to dispatch.
According to this report from local Action News Now:
When backup arrived on the scene, Feaster did not mention anything about having fired his weapon. According to [Butte County D.A. Mike] Ramsey, Feaster notified his commanding officer about the discharge only after Thomas' gunshot wound was found.
As the commanding officer suggested an investigator return to Canteena and try to find out if Thomas had been shot at the bar, Feaster revealed that he may have shot Thomas.
Ramsey said nearly 11 minutes passed before any other officers, medics or firefighters learned Thomas had been shot.
Sounds like D.A. Ramsey knows a lot of startlingly damning things about Officer Feaster's behavior. Sounds like a case for book-throwing.
Except, as Ramsey explained in a letter contained within the Action News link above, Feaster's shooting seemed to him maybe not intentional and thus not criminally negligent. (It seemed pretty intentional to me, but those judging police see with eyes suffused with a soft gelscreen of bitter, bitter mercy.) Because he didn't shoot him twice, according to Ramsey, that proves merely that Feaster is the kind of officer who pulls out his weapon, finger on the trigger, aims it at someone who represents no conceivable threat to himself or anyone else, and shoots him without meaning to, and that apparently is just fine and deserves no criminal punishment.
Why didn't he tell anyone he'd shot him? He was in shock and not even actually sure he'd shot him!
So, reckless to the point of possible actual insanity. That's fine in a cop. Certainly not worthy of charges.
And…wait for it…oh, you know:
Paradise Police Chief Gabriela Tazzari-Dineen said Patrick Feaster remains on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
UPDATE: Old news clip from 2012 shows that Feaster saw drunk drivers as a special crusade of sorts. From the News Review out of Chico, it reveals Feaster to have a personal longstanding interest in drunk drivers and enforcing the law on them, having lost his uncle, who he is named after, to one 10 years before he was born:
Recently, Feaster was recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), having been the top DUI-arresting officer in the Paradise Police Department in 2011, citing 33 drunk drivers. Six months into this year, he's already more than halfway toward his goal of 50 DUI arrests. "I am always looking for DUI drivers," said Feaster. "I watch every car in front of me for signs of drifting."
When confronting a drunken driver, Feaster says he remains calm because it's unfair to classify all intoxicated drivers the same way. Many are unaware that they're over the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol limit. In fact, those types of stops are actually the most common and the excuses generally are sincere, he said.
"They usually say things like, 'I didn't think I was that bad,' 'I only had a few,' or 'I only live a few blocks from here,'" he said….
Feaster has less patience for drunken drivers on the other side of the spectrum. "These are people who are so impaired they shouldn't be walking down the street, let alone driving the car," he said…..
Most stupefying are the repeat offenders, whom Feaster called "the worst."
"People will still drive under the influence of street drugs and prescription medication, which is just as dangerous," said Feaster…
Besides, there's a depressing reality.
"There is no way of stopping them all."
Believe him, he's tried.
Somewhat eerie, now. Thanks to Thomas Swift who found and sent me that old clip about Feaster.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.