The family of an Oakland father allegedly shot and killed by a mentally-unstable neighbor squatting next door believes law enforcement’s inaction led to their loved one’s tragic death, a lawsuit alleges.
The family placed about two-dozen calls to 911 about the squatter’s alleged harassment in the lead-up to the May 2020 shooting death of wealth management banker Miles Armstead as he was moving out his recently sold home, according to the lawsuit obtained by KRON.
The wrongful death suit, filed against the Oakland Police Department and Alameda County probation officers this month, claims authorities have blood on their hands because they failed to intervene as murder suspect Jamal Thomas endlessly harassed the family before the slaying.
Thomas allegedly threw rocks at Armstead’s home, threatened to set it on fire and even injured Armstead’s wife when broken glass struck her, the lawsuit alleges. But when Armstead called police for help, officers “complained” the incidents were not important enough, according to the lawsuit.
One officer told Thomas and Armstead they were both “acting like 12-year-old girls,” the suit alleged.
“Mr. Thomas had obvious mental health issues which contributed to him experiencing violent, uncontrollable yet persistent outbursts,” the Armstead family’s lawyer wrote, arguing police’s inaction emboldened Thomas to kill the 44-year-old father of four.
“Miles was literally cleaning up the front yard of the house he had sold in fear of Jamal Thomas when Thomas chased him down and shot him,” the lawsuit states.
Thomas is being held on murder and assault charges, according to KRON. He pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, the Sacramento Bee reported.
When Armstead died, he had three children from a prior relationship, as well as step-daughter and another child on the way. His wife was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Fox 8 reported. He was a wealth manager for Fremont Bank.
Armstead and his family bought the home in 2017. Two years later Thomas began his “campaign of terror,” the lawsuit claims.
Thomas and his family were evicted in Aug. 2019, but the 46-year-old returned to the house two months later as a squatter.
The Armsteads said they were harassed and threatened by Thomas numerous times from Thanksgiving 2019 on, but police never arrested the reported squatter. At one point, the family boarded up their home to protect themselves and filed a restraining order against Thomas, the lawsuit states.
Thomas was finally taken into custody two months before the fatal shooting for allegedly making threats.
But probation officers never followed up with him as part of supervised release after he was let out of jail before his trial and the harassment continued until it ended in murder, the family argues.
“The County is complicit in the killing of Mr. Armstead,” family lawyer Adante Pointer said, according to Fox 8.
“Thomas was purportedly on the highest level of supervised release, yet they turned a blind eye to supervising him, granting him the leeway and the confidence to continue menacing the frightened family with impunity.”
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