Family Sues Oakland Authorities After Squatter Murders Father

The family of an Oakland man who was shot to death by a squatter who had taken residence next door has filed suit against city officials. Despite almost two dozen 911 calls, the family alleges that the Oakland Police Department and Alameda County probation officers failed to act.

The wrongful death suit charges that 44-year-old wealth management banker Miles Armstead should have been protected from the violent and mentally ill squatter.

He had just sold his home to get away from the threat and was in the process of moving his pregnant wife and four children. Police say Jamal Thomas shot Armstead to death as he was cleaning up his now-former residence.

The grieving family’s attorneys told a local media outlet that Armstead was “literally cleaning up the front yard of the house he had sold in fear of Jamal Thomas when Thomas chased him down and shot him.”

In a six-month span, the banker and family man called 911 at least 23 times. He reported that the squatter next door would throw rocks at his home and threaten to burn it down.

He even physically injured Armstead’s wife, according to the lawyers. They allege that responding officers “complained” about staffing issues and being overworked. The lawsuit also states that they said the repeated incidents were not top priorities.

After one call to 911, the lawsuit states that the frightened family was chastised by an OPD officer for “acting like 12-year-old girls, both of you guys!” The suit charged that Thomas became emboldened and continued persecuting the besieged family.

The filing named the Oakland Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and the Alameda County Probation Department as defendants.

In August 2019, Thomas and his family were evicted from their home. However, he returned two months later and remained there as a squatter. It was Thanksgiving Day, 2019, when Thomas banged on the Armstead’s door attempting to break in, according to the suit.

This began a pattern of increasingly threatening and violent behavior against the family, and attorneys believe the defendants “fanned the homicidal flames burning in Mr. Thomas’ mind.”

The family obtained a restraining order against their persecutor, but to no avail. He was briefly taken into custody once for making threats. However, Thomas was released shortly afterwards and the family alleges that probation officers failed to follow up on pretrial supervision.