Tommy McClain had just “liked” a post on the Facebook page of a cousin whose home he shared, when he became the latest victim of a controversial police shooting early Wednesday morning. Now the family and friends of 22-year-old Tommy McClain want answers from the Eureka, California, police who claim that the young man reached for a gun just before they opened fire.
McClain’s family says that’s not true. And that’s not all. Nichole Mottern, wife of McClain’s cousin Josh Mottern, says that the cops tasered her husband when he saw McClain’s lifeless body lying face down in his front yard and became distraught.
The police shooting — which follows several other police killings of unarmed or apparently unarmed young men in recent weeks — happened at about 12:30 am on the morning of Wednesday, September 17, when McClain was outside on the porch of the home he shared with the Motterns and their two children. Originally from Fresno, McClain became part of the Mottern family, Nichole Mottern said, when he came to live with them in Eureka “to get away from the Fresno lifestyle.”
Nichole Mottern said that she was talking with McClain on the porch of their Eureka home after midnight on Wednesday morning, but soon went inside to check on her husband, who’d had a few drinks too many that evening.
When inside, she looked out a window and saw a police officer in her back yard. When she went back outside, according to Mottern’s mother-in-law Corinna Ward who was also present, there were “five or maybe six” officers in a semi-circle around McClain.
“A cop yelled, ‘He’s got a gun.'” Mottern said, describing what happened next. “They all fired. I saw him getting shot from all different angles. First one fired and then they all fired. It wasn’t one cop. It was them all. There were a lot of cops. He crumpled down into the ground.”
Mottern said that McClain had nothing in his hand, bit Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills said the next day that investigators recovered a gun from the scene. But Mills said that he would not describe the gun until forensic investigators had a chance to examine it.
A neighbor who witnessed the incident, but did not want to be identified, said there “there was an object in (McClain’s) hand” when he was shot.
At a vigil in Eureka for McClain on Friday, Andrew Evans — a friend of Tommy McClain — described the slain man as “a mellow, kind kid. I could never see him being violent.”
A “Justice For Tommy McClain” Facebook page has been created by supporters of McClain’s family, calling for a full investigation into the police shooting death of Tommy McClain.
Police were searching for two men with outstanding felony warrants, but it was not clear whether Tommy McClain was one of those men.