Woman injured in shooting of Terron Boone files civil rights claim
A woman injured in the shooting of Terron Boone, a Black man who was killed last week by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, has filed a legal claim against the county, alleging the officers should have known that Boone, whose half-brother’s body was found a week earlier hanging from a tree, was agitated and fearful when they attempted to arrest him for alleged domestic violence.
A judge had authorized an arrest warrant for Boone, who was charged with beating, threatening and holding a woman against her will for six days, and sheriff’s detectives had been shadowing the 31-year-old in unmarked cars when they tried to take him into custody near an apartment complex in Rosamond, a Kern County community about 20 miles north of Palmdale.
When detectives tried to pull over an SUV carrying Boone, he was killed in what the Sheriff’s Department has described as a shootout: Boone, they said, stepped out of the car’s passenger side and fired at least five shots at the detectives, striking their car. They returned fire and hit Boone in the chest, killing him, the department said. Detectives recovered a semiautomatic handgun at the scene.
Shellondra Thomas, who was driving the car carrying Boone, suffered a graze wound to the head and was struck by shrapnel in the chest, her attorney, Bradley Gage, said Wednesday. Her 7-year-old daughter, who was in the car’s backseat, was not injured in the shooting, but Gage said she was subsequently held at a sheriff’s station for 12 hours and “grilled” by investigators.
Thomas’ claim against the county seeks unspecified damages for negligence, battery and a violation of her civil rights. Through her attorney, she alleged that sheriff’s detectives used flawed, shortsighted tactics that turned a volatile situation deadly. Gage said the detectives did not use lights or sirens to initiate the traffic stop, choosing instead to hem in Thomas’ car with unmarked vehicles.
Citing the litigation, the Sheriff’s Department declined to comment.
Gage, who said he has interviewed unidentified witnesses from the apartment complex, contested the sheriff’s account that Boone shot first. “But even assuming that’s true,” he said, “I don’t think he would have fired anything if the deputies had identified themselves.”
Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating Boone’s death, along with the death of his brother, Robert Fuller, 24, whose body was found hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall on June 10. Although the Sheriff’s Department deemed it a suicide, many residents doubted the finding, citing a long history of racism in the Antelope Valley, and voiced suspicions that Fuller was lynched.
The FBI and California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office are monitoring the sheriff’s investigation of Fuller’s death.
Gage, Thomas’ attorney, said sheriff’s detectives should have understood that the uncertainty and fear surrounding Fuller’s death had created a “highly volatile situation” when they tried to arrest Boone.
“They had to have seen the connection between Robert Fuller and Terron Boone,” he said.
Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.