Oakland father’s family accuse police of murder of loved one allegedly committed by squatter: lawsuit
The family of an Oakland father allegedly shot dead by a mentally disturbed neighbor who squatted next door believe law enforcement’s inaction led to the tragic death of their loved one, the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit obtained by KRON, the family made about two dozen 911 calls about the squatter’s alleged harassment in the lead-up to the May 2020 murder of asset management banker Miles Armstead as he was moving out of his recently sold home.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed this month against the Oakland Police Department and Alameda County probation officers alleges authorities have blood on their hands because they did not intervene as murder suspect Jamal Thomas endlessly harassed the family before the murder.
The lawsuit alleges that Thomas threw rocks at Armstead’s house, threatened to set it on fire, and even injured Armstead’s wife when she was hit by broken glass. But when Armstead turned to the police for help, the officers “complained” that the incidents were not important enough, according to the lawsuit.
One officer told Thomas and Armstead that they were both “acting like 12-year-old girls,” the lawsuit says.
“Mr. Thomas had obvious mental health issues that contributed to him experiencing violent, uncontrollable but persistent outbursts,” the Armstead family’s lawyer wrote, alleging police inaction prompted Thomas to kill the 44-year-old father of four.
“Miles was literally cleaning the front yard of the house he sold for fear of Jamal Thomas when Thomas caught up with him and shot him,” the lawsuit says.
According to KRON, Thomas is being held on charges of murder and assault. He pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, according to the Sacramento Bee.
When Armstead died, he had three children from a previous relationship, as well as a stepdaughter and another child on the way. His wife was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Fox 8 reports. He was a wealth manager at Fremont Bank.
Armstead and his family bought the house in 2017. Two years later, Thomas began his “campaign of terror,” the lawsuit says.
Thomas and his family were evicted in August 2019, but the 46-year-old returned to the house as a squatter two months later.
The Armsteads said they had been repeatedly harassed and threatened by Thomas since Thanksgiving 2019, but police never arrested the squatter. At one point, the family boarded up their home to protect themselves and filed a restraining order against Thomas, the lawsuit says.
Thomas was eventually taken into custody two months before the fatal shooting on charges of making threats.
But he was never followed by probation officers as part of a supervised release after he was released from prison pending trial, and the harassment continued until it ended in murder, the family allege.
“The county was involved in the murder of Mr. Armstead,” family lawyer Adante Poynter said, according to Fox 8.
“Thomas was supposedly at the highest level of a controlled release, but they turned a blind eye to his supervision, giving him the freedom and confidence to continue to threaten a frightened family with impunity.”
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