Ga. Trooper Charged With Murder

A Georgia state trooper on Friday was fired and charged with murder in the death of a 60-year-old Black man, who was shot and killed during a rural traffic stop, just outside of  Savannah, Georgia, according to news reports. 

The trooper, Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, 60, who was stopped on Friday, Aug. 7 for a burned-out tail light, according to The Associated Press. Lewis reportedly was shot almost immediately after the trooper forced his car into a ditch in rural Screven County, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northwest of Savannah, the report notes. 

Thompson reportedly tried to stop the car for a traffic violation when the driver allegedly tried to flee the scene, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says. The trooper then chased the car down several country roads before forcing it to stop in a ditch, the report says.

At some point afterward, Thompson fired a single gunshot that hit Lewis, killing him. The trooper was not injured.

“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,” said Francys Johnson, the family’s lawyer, who obtained the information from law enforcement officials, The AP writes.

The trooper’s arrest comes at a time of a loud public outcry over the deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of law enforcement. In May, George Floyd died beneath a Minneapolis police officer’s knee.  Three white men were also charged in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery as he ran through their neighborhood as well as two white police officers in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks after he tried to flee a DUI arrest. 

The Rev. James Woodall, president of Georgia’s NAACP chapter, called Lewis’s death another chilling example of a Black man being killed unlawfully by a white law enforcement officer, the report notes.

“No one should have to bury a loved one simply because of a busted tail light,” Woodall tells 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.”

BET has been covering every angle of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.

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