Nov 062015
 
Timothy Thomas, 25 Photo: MCSO

Timothy Thomas, 25 Photo: MCSO

by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

[Note:  This article was written and published prior to the Sheriff’s release of the dashcam video.  You will find an update at the end of the article including both Deputy Gordon and Deputy Lariz’ dashcam video excerpts as posted by the MCSO on youtube this morning.]

It was about 9:45 pm on Stock Island. Tony Alfonso’s kids were playing in the front yard. “We were having a sweet sixteen party for my daughter,” says Tony. In a few minutes their home would be riddled with bullets.

Bad boy Timothy Thomas, driving his stolen Ford Mustang at full speed, was trying to shake off Monroe County Sheriff Deputies David Lariz and Josh Gordon.

“We heard the police sirens and the cars racing this way,” says Tony, “then the screeching of the brakes and we all thought: the car is going to crash right through the fence and strike the house!” It didn’t. It stopped just against the chain link fence.

What happened next is all at once stupefying, heroic, and contentious. A gun battle erupted between Thomas and the deputies. In Tony’s surveillance video, his family is seen scrambling for cover under a hail of bullets. Slugs hit the roof, the stairs, the walls. As Thomas manages to escape, Deputy Gordon pulls out an AR 15, which we are told can pierce through walls, and begins firing with the war rifle.  (The term “war rifle” proved disturbing to some readers who  thought it too “aggressive” so it has been stricken…)

According to the police report, Deputy Gordon was shot in the chest; all of the cars were riddled with bullets. Each deputy shot 13 rounds and Gordon shot anywhere between 2 to 5 rounds with the AR 15. Thomas fired at least four times. All claim self defense.

How the shootout began is unclear.   According to Deputy Gordon, Thomas “initially complied” but “then quickly ducked back into his vehicle, drew a handgun and fired several shots (…) while moving away [from gunfire] I [Gordon] felt the impact of the suspect’s gunfire strike me in the center of my chest.” The investigator found “what appeared to be a bullet hole near the center of the trauma plate” [of the ballistic armor vest.]

list your house final

According to Thomas however, he’d fired in self defense only after the deputies began shooting. Thomas suffered gunshot wounds to the back and shoulder. He would surrender the next day after a standoff with KWPD.

Obviously Mr. Thomas’ credibility is quite low. [He’s charged with the October 5th armed robbery of a 69 year-old man at a home near Key West High School, he recently spent nearly three years in prison for a 2012 robbery conviction, and he was allegedly driving a stolen yellow Mustang that had been spray painted black.] Yet it would be interesting to review close-up video recordings of the incident.

Interestingly enough, though Sheriff Ramsay offered a hundred or so body cameras to KWPD in the wake of the Charles Eimers debacle, he has yet to equip his own deputies with them. In Key West, we’ve found that officers are using their body cameras and the recordings have already proven to be a remarkable tool, dispelling many claims of police brutality.

The controversy over who fired first on Stock Island on October 24th may linger. It doesn’t help that one of the deputies involved, Deputy Lariz, was exposed in a recent documentary [The White, the Black, the Blue and His Dog] in a clear pattern of racial profiling. [Thomas is Black.]

Tony Alfonso admires the courage of the officers, but he told The Blue Paper that he intends to file a complaint with the Sheriff about the enormous risk his family was exposed to. “No one is hurt, but only because of some miracle,” said Tony, “All the bullets came from the officers across the street. They could have hit my wife, my daughter, my mother, my dogs.”   He shows us the many bullet holes left in the walls of his house.

The Sheriff Department told The Blue Paper they are currently working on getting their deputies equipped with body cameras.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Read the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department incident report.  Deputy Gordon’s report on the 10/24/15 incident [dated 11/4/2015] was released yesterday 11/5/2015. Deputy Lariz’ report has not yet been provided.

UPDATE:

After answering our public records requests with heavily redacted reports and refusing to release the video to The Blue Paper, the Sheriff released the dashcam videos late yesterday to The Citizen (while continuing to withhold it from The Blue Paper despite an official pending public records request and with full knowledge that we were working on a story about the shootout.) MCSO made it public only this morning, Friday, an hour after we published our article, via the MCSO blog announcing that the video had been published on youtube and did not directly inform us of its release.


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 November 6, 2015  Posted by at 1:00 am * Featured Story *, Naja and Arnaud Girard  Add comments

  26 Responses to “Timothy Thomas Claims ‘Deputies Shot First’ [Police Shootout Rained Bullets on Stock Island Family]”

  1. Here is the dash cam video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USdbH2TdJiQ&feature=youtu.be

    At 21:44:44, you can see Thomas showing a hand. Less than a second later, he is firing.

  2. Yowee!!!

    Hey, Naja and Arnaud – Was I asleep? Did I miss it in the Sheriff’s Facebook page report of the apprehension of Timothy Thomas, and in the Key West Citizen and the Keynoter reports of the case, that the innocent Alfonsos’ home was riddled with deputy-fired bullets, and the deputies were not wearing body cameras? Did you two have to come back from your trip overseas to blow that part of the case wide open with yet another blue lightning bombshell? But for you two, would we ever have heard about this?

    I also have a question about this part of your article:

    “According to the police report, Deputy Gordon was shot in the chest; all of the cars were riddled with bullets. Each deputy shot 13 rounds and Gordon shot anywhere between 2 to 5 rounds with the AR 15. Thomas fired at least four times. All claim self defense.”.

    If Thomas only fired 4 rounds, and 1 of those rounds hit Deputy Gordon’s bullet proof vest, how did all of the deputies’ cruisers end up riddled (emphasis on riddled) with bullets? Did the deputies shoot their own cruisers?

    Body cameras very well could have shown who fired first. If we knew who fired first, and it was Thomas, that might eliminate the racial profiling question. But then, I suppose the only way to truly eliminate that question would be for Thomas to have been white, and it went down the same way, or it went down another way.

    I now wonder if the deputies riddling the Alfonso’s home with bullets is why the same thing did not happen to the Bahama Village home where Thomas was finally apprehended the next day? The Sheriff did not want a repeat of what had happened to the Alfonsos’ home?

    It will be interesting to follow your blue lightning reports on the progress of the Alfonsos’ complaint against the deputies who riddled their home with bullets – if the Alfonsos’ file the complaint. The Sheriff already should have filed the complaint. But with whom? His own Office? His Internal Affairs? The Florida Department of Law Enforcement? Probably not with the F.B.I. or the US Department of Justice.

    • And again, here is typical Blue Paper NOT doing their homework. The suspect is NOT black, he is HALF BLACK AND HALF WHITE. And all LEO who were looking for him since he robbed the guy in KW at gunpoint knew exactly who he was and exactly who his family is. But of course race baiting is one of the Blue Paper’s strong suits.

  3. Typically KW police not caring about collateral damage to innocent people. I wonder what would have happened if that innocent family would have started shooting at those officers shooting at them. Think about that one.

  4. Now the keys has another tourist attraction. The O K Corral in the keys. Thousands will come to see.
    Hey Sheriff, If you had body cams on your people we would see which jerk fired first. One of your guys? Or this upstanding citizen with the stolen car.

    • You would also see how many times the suspect shot deputy Gordon and how lucky he was to escape with his life. They talk about the bullet that shot him in the chest and knocked him on his ass but what if Gordon hadn’t fallen? Where would the entry of the next bullet had been. I can’t wait for the lawyer for this fool to explain why the person he is representing shouldn’t get life in jail.

  5. Why no audio for 30 sec both video? Racist comment? Why not chase bad guy again? Why stand listen to rap?

    • So because there is no audio in the begging of both videos the officers were being racist? Is that the first thing that comes to people’s mind just because there is no sound for thirty seconds? Wow. The officers did not continue to pursue the suspect out of the safety for not only the officers but for the community. The suspect already proved he had nothing to lose and wouldn’t mind taking anyone down with him. As for the rap comment, anyone can listen to any genre of music they wish. Or do you only associate rap music with people that break the law? Do you not know a single person who works in the law enforcement industry? People of all ages, sex, race and anything else you can imagine work in law enforce. So are you going to suggest that for any one in law enforcement should not listen to rap music? Maybe they should all listen to classical or gospel and be exactly what you think s law enforcement officer is.

  6. My bad for not seeing it sooner,

    the Key West Citizen article this morning on the shooting reports the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident. This link was provided to the police videos: http://www.dropbox.com/sh/lhvz2p9hkgoy88n/AAAowMBMUiDK
    8mAOqieWwm0Wa?dl=0

    There is nothing in the Citizen article about the Alfonso home being struck by bullets fired from police weapons.

  7. Same FDLE that not investigate Eimers murder? I think same result

  8. In the first of the two videos later today added to this excellent blue paper article, it looks like Thomas was waving his left hand high out the drivers side open door, while holding a pistol in his right hand when he started to exit the car, and before getting all the way out of his car, he fired several shots, as Sheriff deputies fired their weapons. I suppose it will take an expert examination of the video, running it slower, magnified, voices fine-tuned, to determine who fired first. But it seem clear in the video, Thomas started coming out of the car with a pistol in his right hand, ready to fire it immediately, which he did.

    • Later in the same video, it appears the deputies’ weapons ran out of ammo and perhaps Thomas’ pistol was out of ammo, and he drove his car away and later abandoned it and, I suppose, proceeded on foot. I wonder what would have happened if Thomas had been prevented from driving away? Would there have been more shooting? Would the Alfonso house have taken more bullets? Would a deputy have been shot and hurt, or killed? Or Thomas? This is a really difficult incident to make tidy in my mind. Thank goodness nobody else was shot during the fire fight.

      I talked with Arnaud this morning, Friday. He said after Naja was on US 1 Radio yesterday morning, she is on there each Thursday morning, and said Thomas was claiming the police had fired first, that put Sheriff Ramsay on the spot, because the cam videos, which had not been released, were the evidence of who fired first. The videos were given to the Citizen later yesterday, Arnaud told me.

  9. Seems like till the video is reviewed we really don’t know who shot first. Was he left handed ? Why did tax payers buy the cams if not going to be used ? Once again we all know how the investigation will go. Why did they need so many shots? They put other people at high risk. Even if he fired first this type of action was not needed. Am not saying if shot at that the cops should not shoot to kill but this went out of control.

    As to being half white it generally is still called black.

    If the cops already know him then why chase the car ? Just go to his house and arrest him. How many thousands in damage because of this stupid method?

  10. I love how this paper is obviously anti-law enforcement. Every article that I’ve ever seen this paper publish that includes a law enforcement agency is complexly bias. I can understand when this paper wrote about the story of KWPD and all the incidents that have taken over the past few years. But to see this paper not obtain any real video that shows the incident from start to end and still write an article where they try to make the officers at fault is disgusting. I know all parties in these videos. I went to school with the suspect and I’ve gotten to meet both deputy Gordon and deputy Lariz over the past few years through the community. This is a sad incident and we should all be happy that no one lost their lives because someone was so stupid and just had to not only run from KWPD but also MCSO. The suspect knew this was going to happen the minute he commited the arm robbery by the high school and continued to run. There would not have been a shoot out and no ones life would have been in danger. It’s horrible and sad event for all involved including the families of both deputies as well as the suspects. I do wish this paper would hold its self to higher standard and do their job as perfessional journalists and get every side of a story and keep their personal opinions to themselves. That’s what an editorial is for.

  11. Building upon his alleged armed robbery of a 69 year old man in his home, along with another armed robbery and driving a stolen Ford Mustang, after recklessly leading deputies on a high speed chase, which caused this fleeing suspect to loose control and temporarily disable this stolen vehicle;;;

    I watched on the article’s accompanying videos, the individual driving this vehicle, upon it coming to a stop, rapidly open the driver side door of said vehicle, turn in the driver’s seat as he jumped out into a semi upright position, scoping out his potential targets…

    He feigned compliance with the commands of the deputy as he raised his left hand and arm straight up into the air, before quickly sitting back down and taking cover in the car…

    In a simultaneous movement, he drew his semi-automatic handgun around and fired at least three (3) shots in rapid succession at his target;;; Before any Deputies Returned Fire.

    From the video, I surmise that a deputy was struck by one of the rounds fired by this alleged suspect.

    In the video, it appears a deputy was knocked to the ground from the impact of a bullet striking his vest. Courageously and gallantly this deputy remained in the field of fire, as he took to a sitting position and returned a controlled, well aimed and steady stream of fire; in defense of his own life and in the hope of securing this armed and dangerous suspect.

    If the suspect in the aforementioned videos is Mr. Thomas, what responsibility does he bear for property damage and placing innocent lives at risk?

    One word of caution; clear, accurate and transparent information by investigators with integrity, credibility and good judgement will be required to clear this matter up for the public and all involved parties. In lieu of the Charles Eimers debacle, without mentioning any names or agencies, please use due diligence in the selection of those assigned to review this matter.

    Being shot, vest or no vest, is a painful experience. The deputy struck by the bullet maintained his composure and effectiveness during and after the gun battle. He reassured the deputy who came to his aid and proceeded with his sworn duties, as he and his team initiated a well coordinated operation, which led to the apprehension of a menacing threat.

    The deputies under Sheriff Rick Ramsay’s command on that night demonstrated valorous conduct, which reflected great honor and credit upon the Law-Enforcement Community.

    • “In the video, it appears a deputy was knocked to the ground from the impact of a bullet striking his vest. Courageously and gallantly this deputy remained in the field of fire, as he took to a sitting position and returned a controlled, well aimed and steady stream of fire; in defense of his own life and in the hope of securing this armed and dangerous suspect.”

      We must not be watching the same video. Yes knocked to the ground but had no choice but to remain. Stupid of him to get in site of suspect. Is a reason he parked to the right of the mustang. They are trained to do this in order to use the cop cars door as a shield but this dumb ass did not wait for backup and put himself in site. Well AIMED ? Are you serious ? It was wreckless and no aim at all. Thomas was a much better shooter.Thomas could have easily took advantage of knocking him down and then shoot him in the head. Courageously and gallant are not the words I would use. Don’t get me wrong and am glad the cop lived but tell it as it was. He likely was scared as hell and seen his mistake and only hope was to try and kill Thomas and had he done so would been fine. He had just took a major hit and lucky to be able even hold his gun.Do hope they use the video to train new cops about what not to do.

      Anyone else notice that both videos miss exactly 30 seconds of audio. Also in the one there is a spot of no video.

      Face the facts this was edited. Not sure why but it was. We live in the digital world and it can be done.

  12. The one thing I love about this paper is they tell what is known. The lack of the video was because of the MCSO not releasing it.Is no reason for it not to be seen right then unless they need time to edit or destroy it..

    And with the high amount of cops that lie and commit perjury how can we have respect for them.

    You earn respect not demand it.

    As to the damage it was caused by cops using too much force. Was no need for that many shots. Putting the public in danger was poor judgement.

    Cops are trained to hit the target so do they need retrained ?

    Had any people near by got killed then what ?

    Will admit unless video has been edited that the cops had a right to shoot him but not at the risk of killing others. Does seem that with the stolen car and past history they were right in going after him but this was not the way.

  13. The videos were released 12 days later. Why not immediately? Because so damned many shots were fired and they all missed a guy shooting from the drivers seat 20 feet away? You don’t need that AR-15 to pierce the plastic or thin metal of a late model car. An air pellet gun will do it.
    I do not see racial profiling accused in the above article, but it would not surprise me. What would that have to do with how this was handled anyway?
    “Bad boy Timothy Thomas?” Hell, yeah. If he was pale white or coal black he would still be seen as an armed and dangerous suspect.
    Here is a convicted dangerous felon carrying two handguns that are illegal for him to possess. How does disarming the general populace keep anyone safer? The previous armed robbery was in the victim’s house? I guess he was unarmed, huh? Easy pickings.
    This whole episode stinks mightily and I think there is a whole lot more to the story than what we have been told so far. I noticed that comments posted on the Nov 7 update article are in addition to what are posted here. I am highly suspicious of the two dash cam videos. Perhaps without cause, but I have seen too much deceit from officialdom (not just law enforcement) to just believe everything they say. And I definitely do not trust the word of a career criminal- including the ones who have not yet been convicted and still hold high government positions. See my observations on the Nov 7 update article comments and please add your own observed anomalies or explanations. I would just like to see the truth revealed- whatever it is.
    Nice day what? Just don’t chance letting your teen-aged kids “play” in the front yard near 10PM on Stock Island! I can understand the surveillance system. I would like to see that video, too. Also synchronized to the two dash cams.

  14. So can someone explain why the sound is missing for exactly 30 seconds on both video’s ? I think we all know the sound starts at same time as the video. Something was said that they wanted to hide. And that is tampering with evidence. Might been something racist or incriminating to the officer.
    So what else was edited ?

  15. On second video watch carefully at 1:04 and car is moving , then goes blank at 1:05 but sound kept going. At 1:06 the car stopped moving and the cop is on his ass. Need I say more ?

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