County settles lawsuit for Oakland banker homicide

(KRON) — Alameda County agreed to pay $1.95 million to Miles Armstead’s widow and his five children to settle a wrongful death lawsuit, attorneys announced this week. Oakland will pay an additional $450,000 for the settlement.

Armstead, a wealth manager at Fremont Bank, was shot to death in the front yard of his Oakland home on May 1, 2020. Armstead’s next door neighbor, Jamal Thomas, is set to stand trial for murder in November.

The lawsuit accused Oakland and county officials of inaction and negligence that fanned “homicidal flames burning in Mr. Thomas’ mind.”

Oakland civil rights attorney Adanté Pointer, who represents the Armstead family, said, “We recognized the magnitude of the system’s failures led to this family’s grievous loss and disregarding Thomas’ mental health needs.”

Thomas, 46, was on probation and pretrial supervised released when he allegedly killed his 44-year-old neighbor. Despite nearly two dozen 911 calls made by Armstead seeking help, Oakland Police Department officers and Alameda County probation officers failed to intervene, according to the lawsuit.

Miles Armstead
Miles Armstead

Thomas was a mentally ill evicted tenant who squatted in a house next to the Armstead family home. Thomas suffered from mental illness, the suit states.

Armstead, his pregnant wife, and their children sold their home to escape months of relentless harassment. Armstead returned on the day of his death to tidy up the front yard for the new homeowners, attorneys said.

“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.

Armstead coached and refereed youth soccer and volunteered at his children’s school. Pointer said, “No settlement can ever make up for the loss of their father.”

The lawsuit accused Oakland police officers of emboldening Thomas’ threats and violence against Armstead’s family by dismissing their fears as non-priorities. When Oakland police officers responded to some of the 911 calls, officers “complained” that they were understaffed, overworked, and that incidents were not high priorities, the lawsuit states.

Attorneys also accused Alameda County probation officers of emboldening Thomas by not properly supervising his release. They allegedly didn’t know where he was staying, lost contact with him, and didn’t bother to even look for him leading up to Armstead’s death, attorneys said.

Starting on Thanksgiving 2019, the Armsteads made at least 23 calls to Oakland police reporting Thomas’ violent behavior, which he committed on an almost weekly basis, the lawsuit states. This included breaking into their house, threatening to burn it down, throwing stones and bricks through their windows, and repeatedly violating a restraining order.

Pointer said, “This is a family who knocked on doors all around town trying to find someone who believed there was a great injustice done to them which cost Miles his life.”

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