No accountability

Paradise police officer deserves criminal charges for shooting unarmed civilian

The Paradise Police Department has a tough job to do over the next several weeks. The internal investigation into Officer Patrick Feaster’s shooting of an unarmed civilian at the site of a rollover vehicle crash is integral to the department’s—and the community’s—ability to move forward. Unfortunately, we may never know the outcome, since those types of investigations are kept confidential.

The release this past week of the dashcam video of Feaster’s encounter with citizens Andrew Thomas and Darien Ehorn shook the community. That was compounded by the announcement last Thursday (Dec. 10) by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey that Feaster’s shooting of Thomas was “not justified, but not criminal.” His punishment, if any, will be administrative. Certainly he should be fired, but we also believe there should be criminal repercussions for his actions.

Feaster showed an enormous amount of negligence—as well as a lack of ethics—in his handling of this incident. He pointed his gun at a man exiting a vehicle that had just crashed; he did not tend to Ehorn, who was dying on the pavement in front of him; he discharged his weapon, then proceeded to 1) not tell the other responding officers that he’d shot his weapon and 2) look around the scene for his shell casing rather than help out. The scenario reeks of self-preservation.

If anything, as a police officer, Feaster should be held to a higher standard than your average citizen. He knew how to use his weapon properly—heck, he’d just been through training with it the week before. He is also trained in responding to emergency situations. So he of all people should be expected to handle his gun in a safe enough manner that it doesn’t “accidentally” go off, harming a civilian.

It’s no wonder so many people have a hard time trusting police officers. They expect us to take responsibility for our actions and it’s time they are held just as accountable.