The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced on Aug. 9 that one of their deputies fatally shot a black man, Donnell Thompson, after mistaking him for a carjacking suspect on July 28 in Compton, an area in Los Angeles (video below).
The real carjacking suspect, Robert Alexander, was apprehended by deputies after allegedly shooting at them and fleeing into a neighborhood, notes KABC.
An unidentified neighborhood resident called 911 after spotting Thompson lying motionless in the (resident's) yard soon after Alexander was taken into custody.
Deputies arrived at the resident's home, and thought Thompson might match description of the carjacking suspect, or was somehow linked to Alexander.
According to the sheriff's department, Thompson didn't respond to deputies' commands and was lying on one of his hands, so deputies set off "flash-bang" charges and shot him with foam bullets. Thompson allegedly stood up and "charged at the deputies," and may have reached for his waistband.
A deputy, who was inside an armored vehicle, fatally shot Thompson because the deputy thought Thompson was armed, but Thompson did not have a gun.
The sheriff’s department originally called Thompson a second suspect, notes the Los Angeles Times, but Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Steven Katz said on Aug. 9: "We have determined that there is no evidence that Mr. Thompson was in the carjacked vehicle, nor that he was involved in the assault on our deputies."
Thompson's family announced that they are planning to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the sheriff's department, whom they want an apology from.
Katz stated: "Knowing what we know now, do we wish it hadn’t happened? It speaks for itself."
Katz also said that he wanted to know how Thompson ended up in the resident's front yard.
"That sort of is part of the mystery here," Katz stated. "It’s a terrible situation, and one of the questions we’d like answered is what brought him."
According to Matrice Stanley, one of Thompson's sisters, Thompson was 27 years old but had the mental capacity of a 16-year-old.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Thompson attended classes for mentally disabled people at a local college.
The sheriff's department has refused to identify the deputy who killed Thompson, but said the deputy is on desk duty while the shooting investigation continues. The results will be given to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.