The man shot and killed in a deputy-involved shooting on Nov. 16 has been identified as 40-year-old Thomas Pham, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Pham, a homeless man, was killed in the Santa Clara riverbed near the intersection of Bridgeport Lane and Island Road at approximately 10:25 p.m. as deputies were attempting to locate a suspect in connection with a reported burglary. However, Pham was later found to not be connected at all with the suspected crime.
“Deputies were in the area regarding the burglary of a business in the area when [the deputy] contacted [Pham],” said Lt. Patricia Thomas, homicide investigator for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “However, they later learned that the two were not related.”
Thomas confirmed that deputies contacted Pham because they thought he was the suspect, but learned “after the fact” he was not. Thomas said findings from the homicide division will be submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The name of the deputy who killed Pham is currently being withheld.
The investigations are performed by, but are not limited to, the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and Internal Affairs Bureau.
The office of the Inspector General is also notified and sends a representative to the scene and provides “independent oversight throughout the investigation process.” Once this is done, a review is conducted by the Critical Incident Review Panel to “determine if any immediate actions are warranted.”
“Every aspect of the shooting is reviewed by the Sheriff’s Executive Force Review Committee. Input from Constitutional Policing Advisors is provided during the process,” read a Sheriff’s Information Bureau statement following Pham’s death. “The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Justice System Integrity Division, conducts a legal analysis to determine whether any criminal charges will be filed and if the shooting was legally justified.”
On Monday, the California Department of Justice said the office of the Attorney General is not currently involved in the matter, alluding to the fact that Pham was armed with knives as a reason.
“Under AB 1506, our office investigates police shootings in California that result in the death of an unarmed civilian,” read an email from the Attorney General’s office.
After Pham was killed the Sheriff’s Department also released a statement describing the events that unfolded prior to deputies’ contact with him.
“Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide investigators are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deputy-involved shooting in Santa Clarita,” read a statement from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau following the shooting. “Santa Clarita deputies encountered a male adult armed with two knives. The armed male lunged at the deputies and a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
The statement also read that knives were recovered at the scene and that no deputies sustained any injuries.
The Coroner’s Office listed Pham’s death as being caused by gunshot wounds.
Additional details regarding Pham’s death are not known at the time of this publication.