Sheriff’s Deputy in Houston Indicted in Killing of Unarmed Man

A former sheriff’s deputy in Houston who shot and killed an unarmed black man who was acting erratically was indicted Thursday on a felony charge.

The deputy, Cameron Brewer, encountered Danny Ray Thomas at an intersection in Houston in March. Mr. Thomas, 34, who was unarmed, had his pants around his ankles. According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, he walked toward Mr. Brewer and did not comply with the deputy’s demands to stop. Mr. Brewer, who is black, then fired a single gunshot that fatally wounded Mr. Thomas.

After an internal investigation by the sheriff’s office, Mr. Brewer was fired in April because he had not adhered to the department’s policy on use of force.

On Thursday, a Harris County grand jury indicted Mr. Brewer on one count of aggravated assault by a public servant, a first-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“Our democracy depends on the public’s trusting that police are here to protect us,” District Attorney Kim Ogg of Harris County said in a statement. “When they exceed their lawful authority, our community holds them accountable, and that’s exactly what this grand jury of ordinary citizens did.”

The indictment is the first issued by a Harris County grand jury for a fatal shooting by an on-duty law enforcement officer in 15 years.

Mr. Brewer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Thursday evening.

“The brave men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office hold our community’s trust as sacred,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement on Thursday. “We will continue striving to earn that trust anew, every single day.”

Many people in Houston criticized the shooting as a case of excessive force and the latest example of a law enforcement officer killing an unarmed black person.

When Mr. Brewer had exited his car to confront Mr. Thomas on March 22, his body camera was not recording. But the sheriff’s office later released footage from his car’s dashboard camera that offered one angle of the encounter.

In the video, Deputy Brewer stops his car behind two men having an altercation in the street. The deputy can be heard yelling at Mr. Thomas as he walks toward the car. “Get down, man! Get on the ground,” the deputy screams repeatedly, before, out of the camera’s view, a single gunshot rings out. Mr. Thomas was pronounced dead at a hospital.