Details Released About Fatal Shooting By Off-Duty Cop In Vallejo

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
November 20, 2019 - 2:45 pm
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Vallejo police say an off-duty Richmond police sergeant fatally shot a man who took a gun out of his vehicle and approached the officer during a confrontation in a Vallejo shopping center parking lot earlier this month. But an attorney for the dead man's family says police are not actually being transparent about the encounter. 

Police identified Eric Reason, 38, of Vallejo, as the deceased man and Sgt. Virgil Thomas as the officer.

Richmond police said Thomas has 27 years with the department.

According to a preliminary investigation by Vallejo police, Reason, a rapper known as "CheddaMan," was driving away from the gas pumps in the shopping complex when Thomas arrived in his personal vehicle on the 500 block of Fairgrounds Drive around 5:25 p.m. on November 10. 

Both cars stopped facing each other and Thomas honked his horn to warn Reason of his presence, according to police. Thomas pulled into a parking stall and got out of his vehicle. Reason stopped his vehicle perpendicular to Thomas' vehicle, rolled down his window and yelled at Thomas, police said.

Reason then left his vehicle, shouted profanities and walked within inches of Thomas, who was not in uniform or driving a marked car. Reason walked back to his vehicle, opened the hood and retrieved a rag containing a gun, police said.

Reason approached Thomas with the gun, and Thomas fired a shot at Reason in response. Reason fled with the gun and raised it at one point, and Thomas then shot Reason, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

Thomas shot Reason because he believed he posed an immediate threat to him, his wife who was a passenger in his car, and other patrons of the shopping center, police said.

Melissa Nold, a former law enforcement officer and attorney representing Reason's family, said the Vallejo police account "fails to mention that Mr. Reason was shot in the back of the head while running for his life."

"I have personally examined the bullet wound on the back of Mr. Reason's head. The Vallejo police department appears to be providing a criminal defense narrative instead of distributing unbiased facts," Nold said. "This lack of transparency is not surprising based on Vallejo PD's long history of providing misinformation surrounding officer-involved shootings.”

Nold also asserted that Vallejo police did not follow proper protocol by allowing Thomas to remain at the scene of the shooting.

"We are also disappointed but not surprised that the department has not explained why VPD officers allowed a homicide suspect to contaminate the crime scene and take photos. We're still waiting for the chief to respond to what appears to be a clear violation of department protocol," she said.

The investigation will continue and the findings will be determined by the Solano County District Attorney's Office, Vallejo police said. 

Anyone with information or who witnessed the shooting is asked to contact Detective S. Yates at (707) 648-4533 or Detective J. Scott at (707) 648-4531.