Police: Two-time convict released on “zero bail” before murdering his neighbor

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OAKLAND, CA – Jamal Thomas is a two-time ex-con. He had recently created a habit of harassment and acts of violence towards a male neighbor and his family.

Now, that man, Miles Armstead, is dead, and Thomas has been arrested for shooting him to death, according to police.

Thomas had previously been arrested on suspicion of terrorizing Armstead.  On March 28th, he allegedly threw a rock through a window, nearly hitting Armstead’s wife in the head.

She suffered cuts on her hand and had to be treated for those injuries at a local emergency room. 

She told police that she feared that Thomas wanted to hurt her unborn child. He was also charged in February for communicating a criminal threat after allegedly saying that he was going to burn down Armstead’s home. 

Armstead told police that he believed Thomas’ threat to be credible due to the constant nuisance that Thomas was, having busted out Armstead’s windows on other occasions. 

Then, on April 6th, Thomas threw a brick through another window, narrowly missing Armstead. These details were explained in the charging documents written by Oakland PD Sgt. Phong Tran. 

According to those same documents, Tran wrote that Armstead was doing yard work in front of his former home when he was shot multiple times in the early afternoon of May 1st. 

Here is the kicker. Thomas was arrested for the two earlier incidents, but a judge released him on $0 bail. Once again, judges are putting people on the streets who do not belong their, putting the greater communities at increased risk of violence. 

When will it stop? When will protecting people supersede partisan politics? 

 

Thomas in now being held without bond. His previous criminal background includes a 2012 conviction fro drunk driving and a 1995 stint for unlawfully taking a vehicle.

Additional charges include felony vandalism, possession of a fire arm by a felon, carrying a loaded firearm in the city and carrying a concealed firearm. 

The New York Daily News reported that the previous threats and actions of Thomas forced the Armstead’s to move. He frequently visited the Oakland-area property to get it ready to sell. 

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

According to the website Crime In Oakland, Thomas was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and police sought a $70,000 bail. But instead, an Alameda County Superior Court judge set it at $0. 

Crime in Oakland reported:

“Following the assault and vandalism incidents, Oakland police investigators obtained a warrant to arrest Thomas on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of vandalism. 

They sought a bail amount of $70,000, but Alameda County Superior Judge Dennis McLaughlin instead set the bail at $1.

“Thomas was not arrested on the warrant prior to the killing. Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sergeant Ray Kelly suggested that such a low bail amount was due to the COVID-19 epidemic and stated that even if Thomas was arrested on the warrant, he would have quickly been released.

We spoke to an Oakland police officer, who stated that it is unlikely that officers would have made much effort to arrest Thomas due to the low bail amount and knowing that he would be released right away.”

Armstead, 44, was a respected member of the Oakland community and was a wealth management banker, a father of 4, and was expecting a fifth child. 

Armstead’s murder prompted City Councilmen Loren Taylor to issue the following statement:

“Dear Neighbors: 
 
“My heart has been heavy all weekend as I process yet another senseless, unnecessary and avoidable homicide in Oakland and specifically in my district – District 6.
Every homicide is a personal one. Every victim has a name, a family left behind, and a story of promise and potential that will never be realized.
 
“Gun violence has increased in the last several weeks compared to the beginning of 2020. In District 6 we started with no deaths from gun violence in the first 2 1/2 months, but in the past six weeks we lost  Jalain Dickerson  (Age 19) on March 16th,  Anika Crane  (Age 32) on March 31st,  Henry Texada  (Age 23) on April 28th, and recently  Miles Armstead on May 1st.
My heartfelt prayers go out for these community members and deep condolences to their families.
 
“Friday’s murder of Miles Armstead hits especially close to home, becuase [sic] I spoke with him only two weeks ago. He leaves behind four young children and his wife Melina is expecting.
 
When I spoke to Miles’ Pastor on Friday, he shared with me his belief that, “We will all be asking ourselves for a long time if there was anything else / or more we could have and should have done.” … I know that I certainly will. 
 
“We must learn from this experience and the other recent homicides to improve the system and do even more to stop the killing, provide improved life options for potential offenders, and make our streets safer.
 
In the upcoming weeks I will convene with city leaders, community healers, violence interrupters, law enforcement officers, and Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention to enhance efforts to reduce violence, save lives and improve life options.
 
I look forward to identifying tangible steps that we could and should be taking, and supporting our many partners to realize the much-needed improvements.
 
“In the meantime, you may be wondering how you can help support these efforts. As a first step, I encourage everyone to review the following information about how to support Miles’ wife and young children.
 
“Below is an excerpt from the message published by Miles’ church regarding ways to support his family.

“‘If you would like to support financially, please follow this link to our giving page and select “Armstead Family.” All of your donations will go to the care of the family and their needs.

Please join us in prayer as we believe for God to do the impossible. Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be evident and surround the family and children at this time. If you would like to support in other ways, please email us at [email protected] and let us know how you would like to participate.’

“Thank you for your genuine concern for your neighbors and your commitment to ensuring a safer Oakland. If you have any thoughts, concerns, or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or the District 6 Team directly by phone (510-238-7006) or by email ( [email protected] ).”
 
Yes, gun violence is a terrible thing. Perhaps if we would learn to keep bad guys in jail, there would be less of it.

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