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EUREKA- More information has been released in the officer-involved shooting that left a 22-year-old Eureka man dead.
The Eureka Police Chief, Andrew Mills, held a press conference in at the EPD station on Wednesday, where he released more information on the investigation to the public, including the name of the officer who shot Thomas McClain. Police Chief Mills also discussed exactly what led to the shooting.
Police Chief Mills began the press conference by talking about the operation the night of September 16th, when officers were searching for a felony warrant suspect on Allard Avenue. Police Chief Mills says when officers saw a confrontation between Thomas McClain and another man, they saw McClain do what is called a “safety check.”
"You'll see people pat with their wrist, or take their thumb and put it over the weapon to make sure that it's there. The officers noticed this. At that point, the weapon was not seen, however,” said Police Chief Mills.
Police Chief Mills says officers then called in the Sergeant of their operations.
"Sgt. Stephens directed the officers to stay in place but to have the roving officer drive by the aggressor's location in an attempt to force the man with the gun back in the house," Police Chief Mills said.
But then, authorities say officers saw the gun on McClain for the first time.
"Tommy McClain pulled it out of his pants when the police officer drove by, cycled it, and then put it back in his pants. There is no doubt in their mind that they ‘A’, saw the weapon, and ‘B’, heard the cycle of the slide, raising the level of threat at this time," said Police Chief Mills.
Police say Sgt. Stephens got out of his car and gave McClain commands, and Officer Stephen Linfoot, a 13-year veteran of law enforcement, came to the front of the house to assist. Officer Linfoot had been parked in the alley behind the home in case Thomas McClain tried to flee the scene.
"As observed by three officers for an unknown reason, Tommy McClain dropped his hands and grabbed the gun. Linfoot, who was twelve feet away, had site alignment on his torso and fired, striking mcclain," Police Chief Mills said.
Police confirm Officer Stephen Linfoot shot McClain three times and he was the only officer to fire a weapon. At the press conference, Police Chief Mills showed a picture of the BB gun that was found on McClain’s body. Officials also pointed to evidence they say proves McClain did not have his hands up when he was shot.
"The bullet entry point is through the outside of the bicep, going through the bicep into the chest cavity. So you have a through and through wound and then an entrance wound to the chest cavity, that matches, as far as spatially, perfectly. So your hand can't be up like this,” said Police Chief Mills.
But Thomas McClain’s cousin, who says she saw McClain get shot, tells a different story.
"He had his hands almost all the way up when they started firing, his hands went down after they had shot him and he fell down to the ground," said Nichole Mottern.
Police Chief Mills says it will take at least a month for the investigation to be complete. At that point, it will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for review. Officer Linfoot will stay on administrative leave until at least that time, if he does eventually go back on duty. McClain’s funeral will be held Friday in Fresno, where he is originally from.
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