Dec 10, 2015 8:22 PM by News Staff
The Paradise police officer who investigators say accidentally shot a suspected DUI driver in the neck last month will not face criminal charges, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Thursday.
Warning the video featured above is extremely graphic.
Ramsey said the evidence in this case shows the shooting to be accidental, and possibly negligent, but not criminally so. “This shooting is not justified, but also not criminal."
Paradise Police Officer Patrick Feaster, a five year veteran of the department, was parked on the Skyway around midnight Thanksgiving morning, when he saw a Toyota Four-Runner speeding out of the Canteena Bar parking lot without headlights on.
Feaster followed in his patrol car, as the Toyota ran a red light and turned onto Pearson Road where the driver, 26-year-old Andrew Thomas struck the median and flipped, ejecting his 23-year-old wife Darien Ehorn from the vehicle. Ehorn was killed in the crash.
Ramsey said Feaster drew his gun when Thomas “popped” out of the car, believing he would flee. As Officer Feaster moved towards Thomas, the gun discharged and struck Thomas in the neck. The shot hit Thomas in the C7 and T1 vertebrae and could lead to him being paralyzed for life.
When backup arrived on the scene, Feaster did not mention anything about having fired his weapon. According to 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.
According to Ramsey, several factors led investigators to believe the shooting was accidental. “The dash cam video shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the guns firing. The pistol discharges in mid-stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a stutter step indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally, officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots. There was no second shot and the officer immediately holstered his weapon after the discharge.”
In a media release, Ramsey said “His (Officer 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.”
Paradise Police Chief Gabriela Tazzari-Dineen said Patrick Feaster remains on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Thomas, who had a blood alcohol concentration of .15, is expected to face driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter charges.