Thomas McClain was shot and killed by police in Eureka, Calif., on Sept. 17, but questions on whether or not the shooting was justified are swirling.
McClain, who was Nichole Mottern's husband’s cousin, stood in her front yard when the shooting occurred.
“Tommy lives with me and Josh and my kids,” Mottern told LostCoastOutpost.com. “He came up here to get away from the Fresno lifestyle. He became our family.”
Mottern, Josh and McClain went out to celebrate Josh's birthday last Tuesday night. Mottern says Josh went upstairs to the bedroom in their townhouse.
Mottern recalled that she and McClain stayed outside the townhouse talking. Mottern later went upstairs to check on Josh when she saw a police officer outside her townhouse “looking around.”
She went back downstairs and was met with bright police lights shining in her face.
“The cops were out there screaming, ‘Put your hands up! Put your hands up.’ I put my hands up,” added Mottern. "Tommy was already out there. He sits out there and smokes cigarettes. He came out from beside the porch… He started to put his hands up. He walked out into the grass… [The officers] were telling him to come.”
“[Eureka police] were telling [McClain] to get down,” Corinna Ward, Mottern’s mother, recalled. “I don’t think he understood… I don’t know. His hands were near so you could see. He had them raised. He stepped forward. I didn’t see anything in them.”
“A cop yelled, ‘He’s got a gun.’ They all fired," claimed Mottern. "I saw him getting shot from all different angles. First shot fired and then they all fired. It wasn’t one cop. It was them all. There were a lot of cops… He crumpled down into the ground. There was nothing in his hand."
However, an anonymous neighbor told LostCoastOutpost.com, “I did see an object in his hand. I feel that the level of force used was justified. It was a clear threat to the officer’s life. I feel it was unfortunate, but it was fortunate that no others were injured.”
“After they shot him, they handcuffed him and he was laying there lifeless," stated Mottern. "[The officers] wouldn’t let us go to him. They told us to put our hands up… When you have all officers shouting at you different commands, it is very confusing. Especially when you aren’t doing anything wrong.”
Ward recalled, “[Josh] was really distraught. We were trying to keep him back so he wouldn’t get shot. [Police] tasered him, then tackled [Josh] and then sent him off to jail.”
Mottern shot a video (below) right after Josh was tasered when she told him that McClain was shot.
Mottern went to the hospital to be with McClain, but he was dead by the time she arrived.
“[Some people] are saying that Tommy was fighting with someone,” Mottern said, “He had just liked a picture on my Facebook a minute before. There’s bullet holes in my yard. Bullet holes in the house next to me. I live in a townhouse. There is another house on the other side. They had just moved out or there would have been people on that side.”
However, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills countered, "I don’t believe so, but am not sure," even though Mottern posted pictures of what appear to be bullet holes online.
“Yes, there was a gun recovered,” Chief Mills told NorthCoastJournal.com. "I want a thorough, complete, forensic examination of this incident."
Chief Mills added that there were four officers at the shooting. The officers claimed that McClain allegedly “grabbed for” his gun, according to an Eureka Police Department press release, which added that an unidentified police officer shot McClain, which contradicts Mottern's version.
“We recognize that this is a tragic event all the way around,” stated Chief Mills.
A Facebook page called "Justice for Tommy McClain" has been created.
(WARNING: DISTURBING VIDEO)