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Fort Wayne man claims cops terrorized him in case of mistaken identity

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — A Fort Wayne man filed a formal complaint with the police department’s Internal Affairs claiming officers traumatized him and his four-year-old son after what he says was a case of mistaken identity.

“We could have died. And that’s all I think about, we could have died,” Bronce Thomas says.

He says two weeks ago, he was parked in his driveway for about a half hour, texting, because his son was asleep in his car seat and he didn’t want to disturb him.

He says out of the blue, police raced up in several cars and threw a flash bang at his car before surrounding it.

“I see all these automatic guns pointed at me and my son at the car and everybody yelling get out, get down, we’ll shoot if you — I’m just hearing all kinds of stuff…. I put my hands up. I wanted to look back at my son. But I knew if I would have looked back at him, they probably would have shot us,” Thomas says.

He says police handcuffed him and put him in a squad car, telling him he was a killer they’d just chased into his neighborhood.

He claims he’d seen a couple unmarked cars drive past before officers confronted him, so he says they would have known he wasn’t the person they were looking for.

He says his crying son said something that broke his heart.

“Daddy, I thought they’d killed you. And you know for a father that seems helpless, I can’t protect my son?” he asks.

He says he and his son continue to be treated at Park Center for anxiety and other issues related to the incident, including his son’s nightmares.

“Can’t sleep through the night. He’s waking up calling my name, Daddy, Daddy. I have to go in his bedroom and lay down with him, just to comfort him and help him go back to sleep.”

Thomas tells us he called the police non-emergency number to ask an officer to take a complaint about what happened, but was told he needed to contact the Gang Unit or Narcotics division.

“It really triggered something in me because how many more black men have to be mistakenly identified?” Shamanique Hall asks.

Hall is Thomas’ cousin and is organizing a peaceful protest this weekend to bring attention to what happened.

“I just want people to take more action in the black community because they talk about it but that’s pretty much all it is,” Hall says.

The protest will be Saturday from two to four on the Courthouse Green.

When we formally requested documents and footage from the incident, police would not release them, saying they were part of an ongoing investigation.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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