Records Detail ‘Hellacious’ Fight With Pasadena Police Officers That Led to Death of Reginald Thomas Jr.

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Reginald Thomas Jr. was clutching a fire extinguisher and reportedly had a knife under his arm when Pasadena police officers arrived at his girlfriend’s East Orange Grove Avenue apartment. He was inside with her and two teenagers.

Reginald Thomas is shown in an undated family photo released Sept. 30, 2016.

Reginald Thomas is shown in an undated family photo released Sept. 30, 2016.

Six Pasadena officers would fight with the 35-year-old man. One officer, in the most detailed account yet, described in an interview with internal affairs a struggle in which Thomas was repeatedly shocked with stun guns, battered with batons, and punched and kicked in the head.

Officer Aaron Villacana said he hit Thomas with a “hammer fist” in the face twice so hard his hand broke. His colleagues were able to restrain Thomas, a man who by his family’s account struggled with mental illness. He died shortly after at Huntington Memorial Hospital.

More than a year after the Sept. 30, 2016, encounter that Villacana described as “hellacious,” the city of Pasadena settled a lawsuit by Thomas’ girlfriend and children for $1.5 million. But the case is far from over.

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