By VINCENT BARONE
(NEW YORK POST) — A white Georgia state trooper was fired and charged with murder on Friday in the shooting of a black driver last week.
Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was arrested on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault after he fatally shot Julian Lewis, 60, last Friday as Lewis tried to flee a traffic stop in Screven County, the George Bureau of Investigations announced Friday.
Thompson attempted to stop Lewis in his Nissan Sentra for what his family attorney said was a busted tail light. When Lewis refused to pull over, Thompson began a car chase along several streets.
Eventually, Thompson used what is called a PIT maneuver, short for pursuit intervention technique, which can cause a driver to lose control during a chase and come to a stop.
Lewis came to a stop in a ditch, at which point Thompson reportedly struck him in the head with a single round. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Mr. Lewis never got out of the vehicle and the investigation will show that, mere seconds after the crash, he was shot to death, shot in the face and killed,” Francys Johnson, the lawyer for his family, told the Associated Press.
Thompson in an incident report wrote that he shot Lewis in the head because he feared he was going to run him over, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“At some point, I heard the engine on the violator’s vehicle revving at a high rate of speed,” he wrote in the report, according to the outlet.
“I saw him wrenching the steering wheel in an aggressive back and forth manner towards me and my patrol vehicle,” Thompson went on.
“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.”
But Johnson told the Journal-Constitution that Thompson unnecessarily escalated the situation when he used his vehicle to force Lewis off the road, a dangerous procedure typically reserved for the most high-risk cases.
“No one should have to bury a loved one simply because of a busted tail light,” Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, told the AP.
“This was a case of racial profiling. We are not necessarily happy right now. Yes, the man was arrested, but we’re done dying.”
Johnson said Lewis was a carpenter and had recently finished a project for a local ministry.
Thompson will be booked into the Screven County Jail and the investigation is still ongoing, the George Bureau of Investigations.
“I think he’s a fine trooper,” Thompson’s attorney, Keith Barber, told the AP. “I think at the end of the day he will be exonerated in this case.”
With Post wires