California Officer Won't Face Charges After Shooting a DUI Suspect

December 11th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

A Paradise, California, police officer won't face charges after shooting a DUI suspect in the neck, paralyzing him, following a car chase, prosecutors said on Thursday.

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Officer Patrick Feaster was parked near a bar where 26-year-old Anthony Thomas and his wife had been drinking on November 26. Feaster began to pursue Thomas after observing him speed out of the parking lot. The chase lasted less than a minute before Thomas hit a median and flipped his car; his wife was ejected and died.

Warning: This video contains graphic content.

As Feaster approached the overturned car, Thomas attempts to pull himself out through the passenger side window. The dash cam video, which was played in court on Thursday, shows Feaster shoot the unarmed man once in the neck before he is able to exit. Thomas slumps back into the car.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey called the shooting an "accidental discharge," declining to charge the officer after reviewing the dash cam video frame by frame. Feaster's "reaction on the dash cam video and his statements to protocol investigators confirm an honest belief that he did not intentionally fire his pistol," Ramsey said in a press release.

Feaster remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, the Huffington Post reports.

The shooting has raised questions in the small community. The fact that Feaster declined to report the shooting for 11 minutes after backup and paramedics arrived has raised questions about the officer's justification.

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Thomas was charged with drunken vehicular manslaughter. Police say that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 at the time of the arrest.