‘Not justified, but not criminal’: No charges for Paradise cop who shot motorist in the neck

© Ademo Freeman
The Paradise, California police officer who shot in the neck and possibly paralyzed a man last month will not be charged. Releasing the footage from the officer’s dashboard camera, authorities said it showed that the shooting was an accident.

Dashcam footage from Officer Patrick Feaster’s patrol car shows an overturned SUV that had flipped over early Thanksgiving morning, after hitting the median. As the driver, identified as 26-year-old Andrew Thomas, struggles to exit the SUV through the window, Feaster approaches and shoots him in the neck.

The shot hit Thomas in the C7 and T1 vertebrae, and could lead to him being paralyzed for life, reported KHSL-TV.

 WARNING: Some viewers may find the video disturbing

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who investigated the incident, said that the shooting was "not justified, but also not criminal.”

“The dash cam video shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the guns firing,” Ramsey said. “The pistol discharges in mid-stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a stutter step indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally, officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots. There was no second shot and the officer immediately holstered his weapon after the discharge.”

Feaster’s “reaction on the dash cam video and his statements to protocol investigators confirm an honest belief that he did not intentionally fire his pistol,” Ramsey added.

According to the investigation, Feaster had spotted a Toyota Four-Runner speeding with its headlights off, and followed the car as it ran through a red light, hit a median and flipped over, killing 23-year-old Darien Ehorn, Thomas’s wife.

Feaster told investigators he drew his gun when Thomas “popped” out of the car, thinking the driver intended to flee. However, he did not mention having fired his weapon to other officers who arrived on the scene, and only told his commanding officer after the gunshot wound was found on Thomas. Nearly 11 minutes passed before any officers, medics or firefighters responding to the scene learned that Thomas had been shot, according to Ramsey.

Paradise Police Chief Gabriela Tazzari-Dineen said that Feaster remained on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Meanwhile, Thomas is facing charges of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, KHSL reported.

Paradise is a town of about 27,000 in northern California, about 85 miles (137 km) north of Sacramento.