Christopher Thomas Case Declared Justifiable

By: Deanna Bettineschi Email
By: Deanna Bettineschi Email

“The grand jury reviewed the case, went out to the scene. They heard numerous witnesses their affidavits provided by individuals of the community that saw things.” Valeska said.

A Dothan police officer shot and killed Christopher Thomas earlier this year.
Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska says the grand jury has ruled it justifiable.
But now the Thomas family says the ruling is wrong, and the justice system is flawed.

It started this past summer.
A police officer tried to pull over 22-year-old Christopher Thomas.
Instead, investigators say a chase started, and ended with Thomas being shot and killed.
His family says it shouldn't have happened, but authorities say it could have been avoided.

“The bottom line is all Christopher Thomas had to do was stop.” Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska said.

“Statements like if he would have stopped, he would have alive today. He act like he became god, he know the end result of something?” Christopher’s Uncle, Sammy Parks said.

District attorney Valeska says the grand jury came to this decision after looking at all aspects of the case.

“The grand jury reviewed the case, went out to the scene. They heard numerous witnesses their affidavits provided by individuals of the community that saw things.” Valeska said.

However family members say, the grand jury didn't get to see the complete picture.

“That’s what they should have showed them. Put the vehicle in the parking lot and let them see it like they really were. How are you going to show somebody what’s in the parking lot, but there ain’t nothing there but parking lot.” Parks said.

Now a complaint has been filed against Valeska.

“Some lawyer named mark overhaul, has brought in complaints against me to the FBI, Justice Department, Attorney general.
Earlier this week he told me to get out of the case, I said I would not.” Valeska said.

“This is the reason for the complaint the complaint is because of what happened inside the grand jury. Where people were being threatened people were being coerced, intimidated, talked down upon, being discriminated against including myself.” TOPS Founder Kenneth Glasgow said.

“I’ve read in the media today that there were other witnesses that didn’t come forward because they were afraid or intimidations. That’s just a lot of talk.” Valeska said.

“If you coming in to say what you saw and you're getting held up by this man that’s supposed to be giving you the opportunity to lay out the details of what happened. And then you get told your lying. How can you get told you’re lying if you didn’t see what I saw.” Parks said.

Valeska says he will prosecute two witnesses in the case.
Both have been indicted for allegedly providing false testimonies.

“We feel like a grave injustice has been done. The community, especially the mother, the uncle, the cousins the family.” Glasgow said.

“This aint the end of this, only the beginning, just the beginning, just the beginning.” Christopher Thomas’ Mother Catherine Thomas said.

The family would like to see the case handed over to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office or us Attorney General’s office.

Valeska was able to show WTVY the dashboard video of the police chase, but says he is not releasing it to the public.
He says there are still investigations that are taking place.

Here is an attachment of what will be happening at a press conference Friday:

November 21, 2012:

To: Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section; Federal Bureau of Investigation, Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney General’s Office; Alabama Attorney General’s Office; Alabama Bar Association, Office of General Counsel

RE: Office of District Attorney Douglas Albert Valeska, Dothan Police Department, Houston County Sheriff’s Office

I would like to file a formal complaint against the aforementioned offices in regards to a pattern and practice of racial and discriminatory misconduct pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 14141 and for individual cases of misconduct, false arrests, and excessive force against the individual officers under 42 U.S.C. 242. I would also like to file a bar complaint against Houston and Henry County District Attorney Doug Valeska personally for engaging in egregious, unlawful, and unethical conduct including witness intimidation, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, coercion, collusion, official misconduct, conspiracy to commit false arrest, and conspiracy to deprive individuals of their civil rights, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1985(2)&(3).

I represent the family of deceased Christopher Jerome Thomas. On 5/24/2012, Thomas, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by a Dothan City police officer. The officer was suspended with pay and the case is currently being presented to the grand jury this week. Doug Valeska is presiding over the grand jury proceedings. The City of Dothan, through Police Chief Gregory Benton and other spokespersons, have disseminated the media-friendly version that the officer was justified in shooting Mr. Thomas because Thomas was allegedly attempting to run the officer over with his vehicle. However, several witnesses present at the scene will confirm that the officer was not in the path of Thomas’ vehicle and that the officer simply shot him without cause. The Alabama Bureau of Investigation has failed to conduct a thorough investigation in this matter.

Two of the witnesses who observed part of the events, Minnie Vickers and Nancy Young, were just arrested today at the behest of Doug Valeska and charged with Perjury in the First Degree for telling the grand jury what they observed simply because the truth is adverse to the interests of the offending officer. All this week, I have been fielding complaints from grand jury witnesses present at the scene who have been upset that Doug Valeska has been saying in court that “they’re lying” and threatening to “put them in jail for perjury.” (I have repeatedly informed them that as a defense attorney, I cannot be present to represent them in a grand jury proceeding.) Doug Valeska has already been sued by the Equal Justice Initiative for his policies and practices of excluding blacks and minorities from criminal jury trials. His behavior this week, which should be documented on the record by the court reporter in the grand jury session, has far exceeded the bounds of the law as well the ethical boundaries of our state bar. This behavior and misconduct is rampant, extremely well-known, and very unbecoming of a public official. Such conduct casts doubt on the entire judicial process and further diminishes the public’s trust in the legal system.

I ask that each of the agencies to which this letter is addressed open an investigation concerning the allegations delineated herein. I would also ask that the grand jury proceedings that are the subject of this letter be immediately suspended, that Doug Valeska’s office be recused from this matter, and that the case be taken over by either the Alabama Attorney General’s Office or the U.S. Attorney General’s Office for a federal grand jury and subsequent indictment. I would also ask that Attorney Doug Valeska be recommended for immediate suspension or disbarment, as his conduct is unbecoming of a practicing attorney in the State of Alabama. All documentation concerning the pattern and practices of the aforementioned offices that are the subject of this correspondence will be submitted to the appropriate contact person in the upcoming days. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Mark Overall
Attorney at Law

THE MARK OVERALL LAW FIRM
(Dothan Office)
188 N. Foster Street, Suite 105
Dothan, AL 36303
Phone: 334.699.7699
Fax: 334.699.7698
Email: mark.overall@overalllaw.com


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