Lawsuit: Oakland PD Ignored Harassment, Threats Prior To Murder

Despite receiving multiple calls regarding a man who had unlawfully taken up residence in a home in Oakland, California, local law enforcement reportedly failed to take action until after he allegedly murdered his neighbor.

According to reports, Jamal Thomas was a squatter suffering from mental illness when he began harassing and physically assaulting the family living next door in 2019. After being evicted from the home in August of that year, the 46-year-old reportedly returned later that year and refused to leave.

The Armstead family repeatedly called 911 to report the violent behavior, with nearly two dozen calls placed within a six-month period. Thomas allegedly attacked Miles Armstead’s wife, threatened to burn down the family’s home, repeatedly threw rocks at the residence, and in one final act of violence, fatally shot the 44-year-old father of four.

The victim and his family were reportedly in the process of moving after selling their home for the express purpose of escaping Thomas’ constant harassment.

Now, Miles Armstead’s survivors are suing the Oakland Police Department for what they say was an insufficient response to the threat. Responding officers allegedly made fun of the Armsteads, including one who reportedly said they were “acting like 12-year-old girls” in lodging complaints against Thomas.

According to the lawsuit, the officers “complained” about being sent out to respond to the situation and said that the agency was too understaffed to treat the reports seriously.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the Alameda County Probation Department are also named as defendants in the suit.

“Mr. Thomas had obvious mental health issues which contributed to him experiencing violence, uncontrollable yet persistent outbursts,” the court filing asserts.

Attorneys went on to chronicle the ordeal that the Armsteads lived through prior to the fatal shooting.

“Mr. Thomas terrorized the Armsteads with broken windows, verbal threats, physical attacks, and eventually killed Mr. Armstead due to the failures of the Oakland Police Department, the Country of Alameda and the Armsteads’ neighboring landlord who permitted, emboldened, and ultimately not only placed the Armsteads in harm’s way but significantly increased the danger and fanned the homicidal flames burning in Mr. Thomas’ mind,” the lawsuit states.

Although Thomas was briefly locked up in 2020 in response to threats against his neighbors, he was soon released and within two months, Armstead was dead. The suspect was subsequently re-arrested and is now facing charges of murder and assault.