July 28, 2016
Cause of death: Shooting
Last updated: over 5 years ago
Donnell Thompson, 27, was shot at close range by a deputy riding in the turret of an armored vehicle, one of two dispatched as officers searched for suspects in Compton after a car chase and shootout. Police said the shooting occurred after Thompson ignored their commands and charged at them.
The events that led to Thompson's death began unfolding around 2:30 a.m. on July 28 when deputies stopped a car and determined it was stolen. The suspect fled, plowing into a chain-link fence and driving through elementary school grounds as police pursued.
Shots were exchanged, and the car crashed. Deputies searched for a suspect, and about 2½ hours later located a man hiding in a home.
Around the same time, a homeowner called 911 about a man lying in his small front yard. Katz said the man fit the general description of the man deputies reported seeing running from the vehicle: a black man between 20 and 30 years old wearing dark clothing.
A responding deputy reported finding Thompson lying on the ground with one hand concealed and what looked like a gun nearby, police said. Two armored cars were summoned from the home where the other suspect was arrested and were stationed on either side of Thompson, police said.
Thompson was unresponsive to repeated commands and a flash-bang device failed to generate a response from him. After deputies shot Thompson with two rubber bullets, police said he pushed up off the ground and charged toward the armored vehicle.
Police said a deputy in the turret shot Thompson, fearing he had a weapon and was going to run past the armored vehicle and fire on deputies taking cover behind it.
Sheriff's Lt. John Corina said Thompson was shot several feet from the armored car. Deputies later determined Thompson was unarmed and nothing resembling a weapon was found in the yard.
No deputies were wearing body cameras, according to police.
Hours before Thompson's family planned a news conference to charge that officers killed an innocent man, the department announced its investigation found "no evidence" Thompson was involved in the carjacking.