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Woman claims ‘emotional distress’ in proposed suit against Sheriff’s


Fatal 2020 shooting in Lancaster

By City News Service

A longtime girlfriend of a man fatally shot while sheriff’s deputies were investigating a domestic violence call in Lancaster in 2020 is asking a judge to allow her to file a lawsuit for her emotional distress from witnessing the incident despite having brought a legal claim for damages six months late.

Kimberly Smith, who was in a 22-year relationship with the late Michael Thomas, filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court petition on Dec.. 2, arguing she should be legally excused from not having met the statute of limitations when she filed her claim in June of this year instead of meeting the deadline of last December.

A claim is a required forerunner of a lawsuit and must be brought within six months of the incident. The County Counsel’s Office rejected the woman’s claim because of the late filing.

On June 11, 2020, Smith accidentally dialed 911 and did not say anything to the operator who answered, her court papers state. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived at the couple’s home on West Avenue H12 about 5:50 a.m. and requested to come inside, but the 62-year-old Thomas said the 911 call was a mistake and told them they could not enter without a warrant, the petition states.

The deputies eventually broke through the door, and during an ensuing scuffle, Thomas was shot by one deputy while two others were restraining him, according to the petition. The same deputy who shot Thomas pointed a gun at Smith and told her to back away, the petition alleges.

Thomas later died at a hospital. Smith suffered emotional distress as a result of witnessing both the shooting of Thomas as well as the gun being pointed at her, the petition states.

Smith did not present her claim within the required time for several reasons, her petition states.

In her proposed lawsuit, Smith says she hopes to sue the county, the LASD and four deputies for civil rights violations, unreasonable search and seizure, excessive force, assault, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.