A Paradise, California, cop who authorities said accidentally shot a DUI suspect in the neck after a pursuit won't face charges, prosecutors said in court Thursday.
Instead, Andrew Nicholas Thomas, 26, faces a charge of drunken vehicular manslaughter after he rolled the SUV he was driving, ejecting and killing his wife, 23-year-old Darien Ehorn, according to ChicoER.
Police dashcam footage of the crash and shooting was shown in court Thursday, when Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced that no charges would be filed against Officer Patrick Feaster, Action News Now reports. The video of the incident, which occurred just before midnight on Thanksgiving, is extremely graphic:
The video shows Feaster chasing the SUV driven by Thomas when the vehicle careens out of control and flips. Thomas climbs through a window to escape from the overturned Toyota 4Runner. Feaster walks toward the vehicle, pulls his gun and it fires almost immediately. Thomas, wounded in the neck, slumps back into the vehicle.
Thomas, who police said had a blood alcohol level of 0.15, remains hospitalized in stable condition. Ehorn's body was found on the road.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey quickly declared the shooting an "accidental discharge." He said on Nov. 27 that the determination was made by examining the video frame by frame, KRCR reports. Ramsey said it was clear that Feaster was surprised by the gun firing.
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.
Ramsey said on Thursday that Feaster didn't mention the shooting until 11 minutes after backup and paramedics arrived.
The gun, a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic, shouldn't fire unless a safety lever and the trigger both are pulled. Ramsey said investigators believe Feaster pulled the trigger, but Department of Justice experts haven't determined whether the weapon malfunctioned.
Feaster told fellow officers that evening he didn’t know why the gun went off.
Feaster will remain on administrative leave until the investigation concludes.