State trooper charged with murder after shooting black driver ‘out to buy a grape soda for his wife’

A Georgia state trooper, Jacob Thompson, 27 has been fired and charged with murder after fatally shooting a 60-year-old black man during a traffic stop earlier this month.

The trooper, Jacob Thompson, who is white, was booked for felony murder and aggravated assault by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stemming from a traffic stop he made on 7 August over a broken tail light.

During the stop in Sylvania, Georgia, Mr Thompson allegedly fired his weapon at Julian Lewis, a 60-year-old black man, and killed him.

At around 9pm, the trooper Jacob Thompson followed Mr Lewis and signalled to him to pull over for an apparent broken tail light, according to a Georgia State Patrol incident report. 

Mr Lewis kept on driving, leading Mr Thompson to maneuver his patrol vehicle to force the car sideways. Mr Lewis’ car came to a stop in a ditch.

Mr Lewis had both hands on the steering wheel as the trooper got out of his car and drew his firearm, according to the report.

Mr Thompson stated that Mr Lewis appeared to drive his car towards him, prompting the trooper to shoot Mr Lewis. The 60-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a bureau statement. It took around four hours to notify his family.

Mr Lewis had reportedly gone out to purchase a grape soda for his wife.

“Mr. Lewis was no threat as a 60-year-old man just trying to make it home from a convenience store run,” Francys Johnson, a lawyer representing the Lewis family, told the New York Times.

Mr Johnson told the Times that he believes the swift decision to fire and charge Mr Thompson was a direct result of the recent wave of protests against police brutality after the killings in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and others.

“Often times justice is so delayed in these kinds of cases,” Mr Johnson told the Times. “I can’t think of another case that has moved so swiftly.”

Mr Lewis’ wife, Betty Lewis, told the Times in a statement her husband was “too good to die as he did” and said she wants “justice for Julian.”

Keith Barber, the lawyer representing the state trooper, told The Associated Press last week that his client has “an excellent character,” and he believes he will be exonerated.

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