Family of Oakland banker killed by neighbor awarded $2.4M from city, county

The family of an Oakland banker shot and killed by his neighbor while he was doing yard work has been awarded $2.4 million in a settlement following his death. 

Civil rights attorney Adante Pointer said Oakland will pay the family of the slain Miles Armstead $450,000 and Alameda County will pay $1.95 million. 

Armstead was working outside at his home on the 7500 block of Ney Avenue in East Oakland when his former neighbor, Jamal Thomas, fatally shot him on May 1, 2020, according to Oakland police. 

Thomas was a convicted felon who suffered from mental illness and had been squatting next door.

Police reports show that Thomas had threatened Armstead for months.

Miles Armstead, left, was killed by his Oakland neighbor in May 2020. The city and county will pay $2.4 million to his family to settle a lawsuit.

His widow, Melina Armstead, argued in her lawsuit that Oakland police and county probation officers should have done more to protect her family.

"I think that the first time someone calls, it's like ‘Oh it’s a neighbor argument,' but if we're calling for five months and windows are being broken, and we're scared… I think there should be some more urgency to that situation to figure out what's going on," Melinda Armstead told KTVU in an interview Tuesday.

The Armsteads' attorney said Alameda County had a responsibility to oversee Thomas while he was on probation and that Miles Armstead's death was a "preventable tragedy." 

"The county had the obligation to supervise [Jamal Thomas] while on probation, and that essentially never happened," Pointer told KTVU on Tuesday. 

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Laurel Beeler refused to dismiss Oakland's request to dismiss the Armsteads' claims.

"The allegations about Mr. Thomas’ escalating and persistent violence and the officers’ failures to intervene — including telling the Armsteads in Mr. Thomas’ presence that they would do nothing — plausibly pleads deliberate indifference to a foreseeable risk," Beeler wrote.

Beeler referenced the several times that Oakland police officers came to the Armsteads’ home in response to 911 calls, complaining out loud that the department was understaffed and overworked, and that the family’s calls were not high priorities, Courthouse News reported.

"The officers here allegedly emboldened Mr. Thomas by saying within earshot of him that they would do nothing," Beeler wrote.

Armstead, a wealth manager at Fremont Bank, was a father to three children and expecting a fourth child at the time of the shooting.

Thomas is expected to go trial in November.