Jacob Gordon Thompson, a Georgia State Patrol trooper, is in custody facing murder charges for allegedly fatally shooting a Black man during a traffic pursuit. CNN reports that his arrest happened on Friday, Aug. 14.
Thompson, 27, has been charged in the shooting death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, 60. According to a press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Thompson attempted to stop Lewis for a broken taillight. Lewis didn’t stop and a pursuit ensued.
Using a “precision intervention technique,” Thompson was able to end the brief chase by steering Lewis into a ditch to stop his car. Once stopped, according to the New York Times, Thompson observed Lewis with both hands on the steering wheel but says that he then saw Lewis maneuver the car in his direction. Thompson opened fire, shooting Lewis in the face.
Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Mr. Lewis was no threat as a 60-year-old man just trying to make it home from a convenience store run,” said the Lewis family attorney, Francys Johnson.
Johnson told the New York Times that Lewis went to the store around 9 p.m. on Aug. 7 to purchase a grape soda for his wife when he was stopped near Sylvania, Georgia.
The family was not notified of his death until 1 a.m. the next morning.
Thompson was fired from the Department of Public Safety and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. GBI says that he will be booked into the Screven County Jail.
In addition to GBI, the FBI is now also involved, according to Kevin Rowson, an Atlanta public affairs specialist for the FBI.
“The FBI is aware of the Screven County matter and we have been in contact with local and state authorities,” stated Rowson. “The FBI is always prepared to investigate whenever information comes to light of a potential federal violation.”
Johnson issued a statement on Friday, following Thompson’s arrest.
“The unprecedented pace of the investigation is a direct result of years of activism on these issues along with a sea-change in law enforcement leadership at the top of the GBI. This was not business as usual.”
The Georgia chapter of the NAACP declared a state of emergency in the state “with respect to the never-ending acts of police violence that regularly and consistently put our communities in danger.”
Betty Lewis, Lewis’ widow, is relieved that Thompson was charged.
“I want justice for Julian. He was too good to die as he did,” Mrs. Lewis said in a statement. “This is one step towards justice.”
A candlelight vigil was held for Lewis on Friday at Sylvania City Hall and his homegoing ceremony took place Saturday at Charlestown Methodist Church in Sylvania.
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