A Georgia State Trooper has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a sixty-year-old man trying to flee a traffic stop.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Trooper Jacob Gordon Thompson shot and killed Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis after an Aug. 7 nighttime traffic stop in rural Screven County. Lewis was shot once, the agency said. Thompson, age 27, was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, the bureau said Friday.
The arrest came two days after Georgia NAACP President James “Major” Woodall and others demanded a federal probe into the shooting of Lewis, who is Black. “This is not a black and white issue. It is an issue of humanity,” Woodall said, the Statesboro Herald reported Thursday.
The Associated Press in an article Friday quoted Woodall as calling Lewis’ death another chilling example of a Black man being killed unlawfully by a white law enforcement officer.
Thompson, who became a trooper seven years ago, was fired after his arrest. Francys Johnson, a Statesboro attorney representing the Lewis family, told the Herald that the traffic stop involved an inoperative tail light and that Lewis was unarmed and inside the car when he was shot in the face. “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,” Johnson said, according to the paper.
Thompson’s attorney, Keith Barber, declined to comment on specifics of the case, but said he believes his client “has an excellent character,” the AP reported.
“I think he’s a fine trooper,” Barber said. “I think at the end of the day he will be exonerated in this case.”