Community Bids Farewell to JR Thomas, Man Who Died in Police Custody on September 30

Hundreds pack church for homegoing funeral service

Published : Thursday, October 13, 2016 | 5:10 AM

More than 200 friends and family members bade farewell to Reginald Bernard “JR” Thomas Wednesday afternoon in a homegoing service at New Revelations Baptist Church in Pasadena. So large, in fact, was Thomas’ family contingent, that they filled the nearly 100 chairs on one complete side of the packed church.

Thomas died while in police custody early Friday, September 30, after being tasered twice and struggling with officers who responded to a 911 call which brought them to his apartment residence on East Orange Grove Boulevard.

The cause of his death has not yet been announced  by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators.

A number of prominent Pasadena clergy were present at the service, as well as Pasadena Councilmembers John Kennedy and Tyron Hampton.

Thomas was born December 11, 1980, in Harrisburg, Mississippi to Patricia Maghee and Reginald Thomas Sr. He attended Pasadena Unified School District schools and was am member of Shield of Faith Christian Center and Lake Avenue Church of Pasadena.

Thomas is survived by his father, grandmother Annie Harris, five sons—Bernard, Dominick, RaSaun, Jamicko and Reginald, as well as three daughters—Patricia, Raquel and Riylen, along with three brothers, five sisters, 11 nieces and 12 nephews.

Following a song by Kenetra Mahmoud, Thomas’ formal obituary was read by Nicole Comas. A floral presentation which spelled out “Dad,” stood alongside Thomas’ white coffin.

More than a dozen clergy members spoke at the service with Reverend John Bledsoe saying to the family, “We are opening our channels to support you in the days to come. We will provide great spiritual comfort.”

Councilmember Tyron Hampton alluded to Thomas’ controversial death, saying, “I have serious issues with all of this,” but would not elaborate. “I am simply here to pray for the family,” he said, adding, “I ask every man here to step up and be a father to these children and to other children in your neighborhoods.”

Hampton continued, “You are all my family. Pasadena is not Pasadena without you. You are Pasadena. Make sure Pasadena sees you that way.”

“All African American lives in America are being discounted,” said Councilmember Kennedy, echoing Hampton’s theme. “The facts must come about that night that JR went to the Lord. Black men are under siege in this country. We must stand together as a family. We are all blood-related. We must demand justice”

“When will it be okay to be black?” asked Reverend Brandon Fisher, of First AME Zion Church, who led the service.

Exhorting the crowd, Fisher said, “This is a color problem. How long will this go on? Black is the strongest race and they are trying to keep us down.”

“I ain’t scared to be black!,” Fisher continued, “They think the only way to keep us down is to shoot us. Not just here, but everywhere.”

“This death will not be swept under the rug,” said Reverend Michael Burnes. “We must come together as a people. We can demand change, and we will get change.”

Thomas was interred at Mountain View Mortuary and Cemetery in Altadena.