Civil Liberties

Known Drunk Driver-Hating Officer Who Blatantly Shot a Drunk Driver for No Apparent Reason Loses Job, Indicted for Involuntary Manslaughter [UPDATED]


UPDATED: After initial post, I learned that last week Feaster was indeed charged with involuntary manslaughter. More below.

I reported last year about the curious case of Officer Patrick Feaster, a California policeman with a loud public record of being really peeved with drunk drivers, who came upon and casually shot Andrew Thomas after Thomas flipped his truck in a drunk driving incident that killed Thomas' wife.

ep_jhu via / CC BY-NC

Thomas was struggling to crawl out the window of his truck vertically when Feaster shot him. Feaster neglected to report to dispatch that anyone had been shot, merely referring to a man who (Feaster had just shot, which might explain what followed, but he didn't mention any of that) "refuses to get out" of the truck.

As I reported then, Feaster was at first found not worthy of charges in the incident by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey on the curious grounds that, as I summed it up, the:

shooting seemed to [Ramsey] 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 [Feaster] 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.

Thomas died of his injuries shortly after my initial post.

Last week Paradise Post reported that Feaster has finally been relieved of his job, although Paradise Police Chief Gabriela Tazzari-Dineen "could not disclose why Feaster is no longer with the department." 

After Thomas died, D.A. Ramsey reconsidered his initial decision not to prosecute at all, and that investigation, Ramsey now tells the Paradise Post:

 hinges on Thomas' autopsy report. One of the things Ramsey wanted an opinion on was whether immediate medical attention could have saved Thomas' life. Feaster did not acknowledge to superior officers that he had shot Thomas until 11 minutes after the shooting.

UPDATED: Two days after that Paradise Post report last week, Ramsey announced that he was indeed charging Feaster:

The charge of involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of four years of custody in county jail (a change from state prison as a result of AB109 in 2011). The additional allegation of being armed with a firearm carries an additional year in custody.

The video of the incident, highly disturbing, can be found at this Action News Now story.