Georgia State Trooper Arrested On Felony Murder Charges For Murdering Black Man On Traffic Stop

A Georgia State Patrol troop­er has been arrest­ed on felony mur­der charges after he shot and killed a 60-year-old Black man fol­low­ing a traf­fic stop on August 7. Now, an attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the victim’s fam­i­ly says a civ­il rights inves­ti­ga­tion is underway.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that on Friday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations arrest­ed 27-year-old state troop­er Jacob Gordon Thompson in Screven County for the shoot­ing of Julian Lewis.

From AJC:

Authorities have said the shoot­ing took place after Thompson attempt­ed to stop a Nissan Sentra for a bro­ken tail­light on Stoney Pond Road in Screven County. After a brief chase down sev­er­al coun­ty roads, the troop­er ini­ti­at­ed a PIT maneu­ver, and the car came to a stop in a ditch, the GBI said. The troop­er fired one round, fatal­ly strik­ing Lewis. The fam­i­ly attor­ney said the PIT maneu­ver was unnec­es­sary. PIT maneu­vers, in which an offi­cer uses his or her car to push a vehi­cle off the road, can be dan­ger­ous and are gen­er­al­ly only done to elim­i­nate any risk to pub­lic safe­ty. Johnson con­tends there was no risk to pub­lic safe­ty on the rur­al dirt road. The GBI was request­ed that day to inves­ti­gate the offi­cer-involved shoot­ing. The agency has opened 59 such inves­ti­ga­tions this year.

Thomson — who has been a Georgia State Trooper since 2013 — claimed in his police report that he “heard the engine on the violator’s vehi­cle revving at a high rate of speed.”

I saw him wrench­ing the steer­ing wheel in an aggres­sive back and forth man­ner towards me and my patrol vehi­cle,” his report reads. “It appeared to me that the vio­la­tor was try­ing to use his vehi­cle to injure me. Being in fear for my life and safe­ty, I dis­charged my weapon once.”

At this point, one has to assume that “I was in fear for my life” is writ­ten some­where in the Cop’s Guide to Killing Black People When it Clearly Wasn’t Necessary. Fortunately, this time the words weren’t tak­en at face val­ue, and an arrest was made.

Lewis’ wife Betty — who was leav­ing the funer­al home when she heard that her husband’s killer would be charged — agrees.

I want jus­tice for Julian. He was too good to die as he did. This is one step towards jus­tice,” she said in a state­ment, AJC reports.

Lewis fam­i­ly attor­ney and for­mer Georgia NAACP head Francis Johnson — who said he learned Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice approved his request for a civ­il rights inves­ti­ga­tion — also praised the GBI Director Vic Reynolds, the local dis­trict attorney’s office and oth­er offi­cials for prompt­ly arrest­ing Thomson and mak­ing him answer for his alleged crimes.

It’s rare that I’m able to say that all the agen­cies involved have done the right thing,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that he request­ed the civ­il rights inves­ti­ga­tion — despite the fact that Thomson has no pri­or dis­ci­pli­nary infrac­tions on his police record — because word on the street is that Thomson has a his­to­ry of racial bias.

We got lots of mes­sages from peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ty that the habit of ex-troop­er Thompson was to racial­ly pro­file and harass Black and brown peo­ple on the high­way,” Johnson told AJC. “This was not shock­ing to them that this happened.”