A man whose prison sentence was commuted in November by former President Barack Obama has been shot dead before gaining his freedom.
Demarlon C. Thomas, 31, was killed on the night of Jan. 23 by two masked men armed with assault-style rifles, reports the Daily Mail.
It happened at Bannum Place, a federal halfway house where Thomas was living. He was shot several times by one of the gunmen, while about two dozen other residents were held at gunpoint, according to Lieutenant David Kaiser.
“One person watched over a group of them while another subject located the victim and executed him,” explained Kaiser to the Saginaw News, reports the Mail. “They were looking for this person,” he added, referring to Thomas.
None of the other residents were injured, but Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene. The gunmen reportedly got away.
Thomas was serving 19 years at Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio on a 1988 charge of selling cocaine, but the sentence was cut short by about a year. He was scheduled to go free on March 22, 2017.
He was arrested as part of a federal investigation called “Operation Sunset,” which dismantled the Saginaw-based Sunny Side Gang, of which Thomas was a member.
He was one of 79 individuals whose sentences Obama commuted on Nov. 22, 2016.
Obama commuted 1,715 sentences during his presidency, which his administration said is more than any president in history, reports The Associated Press.
“He wanted the opportunity to look at as many as he could to provide relief,” said Neil Eggleston, Obama’s White House counsel. “He saw the injustice of the sentences that were imposed in many situations, and he has a strong view that people deserve a second chance.”
Obama has stated that thousands of Americans have been imprisoned to unreasonably long terms due to sentencing requirements for drug offenders.
Overly strict sentences, he argued, constitute excessive punishment, and have caused the United States to have the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Sources: Daily Mail, The Associated Press / Photo credit: Jobs For Felons Hub/Flickr, Daily Mail