Cop who killed man stands over him after firing the fatal shot.
Groesbeck, TX – July 17, 2012, dawned on a man in this city whose voice was captured that very morning on a jailhouse listening device as he vowed he would prefer being shot to death than to submit to arrest for another offense. That was before lunch.
He did not live long enough to see another sunrise.
Steven Thompson visited his girlfriend, a woman named Shannon Carey, at the Limestone County Law Enforcement Center in the morning. During their visit, she pressed him repeatedly to promise her that he would not do anything to provoke the lawmen if they served an arrest warrant on him. He had made a similar statement the previous May, one that had been similarly recorded.
His mother said the result was that a memo had been placed in police files saying it should be necessary to approach him with extreme caution.
Thompson walked home from the jail and reported to his father’s tire shop to work on a truck that needed repairs to its front end steering apparatus. Within a couple of hours, at about 2:30 p.m., he was flat on his back, shot through the lung, the bullet piercing his diaphragm and his liver, and lodged in his abdominal wall. He lay there after being repeatedly shocked by a 50,000-volt TASER gun, his life’s blood pouring out on the concrete.
Thompson’s mother Jeannie and his father Bill watched as Deputy Billy Mack strolled into their shop, went through their son’s pockets and told him he had a warrant, that he was under arrest, then steered him through a narrow gap between the mirror of the pickup truck he had been working on and the wall of the garage bay door. They never head him say for what reason he was making the arrest.
No one ever saw a warrant. They haven’t seen one to this day.
Everyone agrees that something happened that turned the confrontation into the violent episode that within hours ended Thompson’s life.
No one agrees exactly what did, in fact, occur.
Though a Grand Jury met and heard the results of an investigation, the burning question remains. Was the death of Steven Thompson a suicide by cop?
Sergeant Mark Leger of the Texas Rangers’ F Troop wrote an extensive and meticulous investigation report. In it, he details the testimony of Thompson’s mother, who says her son shrugged his shoulder to keep from hitting the truck mirror. At that point, she told the Ranger, Deputy Mack shoved him into the truck, and the two fell to the ground in a death struggle.
Other witnesses agree with Mrs. Thompson that they heard the Deputy shout that he couldn’t believe he had been shot with his own TASER gun. He told the investigator that he was forced to defend himself when Thompson “came at him” with the weapon.
Curiously, there is no mention in the report of his being pierced by the twin prongs that serve as electrodes to deliver the devastating 5-second shocks of 50,000 volts. Similarly, no one seems to have seen Thompson with the TASER gun in his hand.
Everyone agrees that Thompson’s body convulsed with the electroshock of the TASER gun repeatedly.
Portrait of misery: Jeannie and Bill Thompson
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson both agree that their son lay on the floor, rigid, his body convulsively “flopping” as the powerful current surged through him.
And then, they say, Deputy Mack reached past the point where Mr. Thompson stood over his son and calmly pumped a round into the right side of his rib cage.
The deputy’s words to Ranger Leger differ totally. He said that he was under assault by Thompson, that Thompson was attempting to take his weapon away from him as they struggled on the floor. The Thompsons and others do not remember it that way. They say he bent over from the waist and fired the fatal shot.
The witnesses differ as to where the shot was aimed. Some said he shot him in the abdomen, others said in the leg. No one disputed the fact that the Deputy did the shooting, and it begs the question that he had wrestled the man to the ground, face down, then stood and fired at close range into the right side of his chest.
A snapshot made with a camera phone just minutes after the shooting clearly shows Thompson on his back, a man who sat on his body to hold him down standing in the foreground with the seat of his jeans saturated with blood. Deputy Mack is standing to the man’s right, his right hand drawn back by his side where he holstered his pistol, his left near the cross draw holster for the TASER gun. Bill Thompson stands to his right, staring down at his dying son.
An ambulance transported him to an emergency operating theater in Waco, Texas, about 30 miles distant. When Thompson died about 9 p.m., he became part of a grim statistic, one of more than 5,000 people who have been killed by police officers since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
When the District Court convened a Grand Jury to inquire into the killing, the Thompsons were not subpoenaed. The DA had Sgt. Leger detail his report to the members of the jury. There is little indication that any other persons were questioned in their presence. It is unknown if Sgt. Leger mentioned that the Thompsons both alleged, as he mentioned in his report, that the Deputy pointed his pistol at them and said he would shoot them, too, if they didn’t quiten their voices, step back, and let the investigation proceed from that point.
Texas Grand Juries operate in secret. This one returned no true bill of indictment for any of the various degrees and varieties of killing a human being that are mentioned in the Texas Penal Code. Texas Grand Juries almost never return true bills of indictment in cases of death caused by a police officer’s shooting in what he proclaims was a defense of his life.
Mrs. Thompson recalls that she cried out, over and over, “You don’t have to do this,” as Deputy Mack repeatedly shocked her son with the TASER gun, then shot him with his pistol.
Mack is back on the job, having been suspended with pay pending the Grand Jury investigation. The Thompsons both say he is a murderer, that they are eye witnesses to the crime.
As an afterthought, they both recall that they lost all of their lucrative towing business when the Sheriff’s Office removed them from the tow truck rotation list for a period of 10 months, “pending investigation,” a period during which Mr. Thompson was forced to pay the usual insurance premium of $1,300 per month to keep his wrecker legally operable. He estimates this administrative penalty cost his business better than $50,000 in lost revenue.
To hear an audio report of a conversation with the still-grieving couple, follow this link:
To witness a demonstration of a TASER gun by police, follow this link:
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