A black man in his 60s was fatally shot by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies who were responding to a domestic violence call in Lancaster early Thursday, officials said.
Deputies were summoned by a “domestic violence in progress call” along the 600 block of West Avenue H12 about 5:20 a.m., according to the department.
When deputies arrived they tried to detain the man for the investigation, but when he refused, an altercation ensued, the Sheriff’s Department said in an updated news release.
The fatal shooting comes as protests nationwide continue to decry police brutality and excessive use of force, especially against people of color.
Family at the scene identified the man as 63-year-old Michael Blu Thomas.
Thomas’ relatives and deputies paint different pictures of what led up to the deadly gunfire.
Deputies forced their way into the home after Thomas told them it was his right to not let them in, said Miguel Coronado, a civil rights advocate with Agents of Change who spoke with the family.
Thomas’ girlfriend, who was with him at the time, reported that four deputies proceeded to restrain Thomas, while a fifth shot him in the stomach, Coronado said.
Deputies say Thomas was fighting them off as they tried to handcuff him, and that he reached for one of their handguns before he was shot.
Thomas’ brother said he came out of his room to find deputies performing CPR, and they forced him outside.
“He’d never try to grab a gun,” he said.
Thomas’ girlfriend said she didn’t see him reach for a gun.
Thomas was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
His family said he was on disability after an injury left him with partial use of his arm, and he had bad eyesight. They also say his girlfriend is deaf, and that she isn’t the one who called 911, according to Coronado.
But sheriff’s investigators insist she was the one who called. They say she never spoke with the operator, but could be heard arguing with Thomas in the background.
Deputies also allege she told them she called 911 and reported Thomas assaulted her in a recorded statement.
Family and friends gathered outside the home Thursday and said they were distraught.
It is unclear how many deputies were involved in the incident, but none were injured, officials said.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, internal affairs and the county Office of the Inspector General are all doing separate investigations — standard procedure during officer-involved shootings.
Correction: A previous version of this story inadvertently left off the Thomas’ first name. It’s been added and the story updated.