A Georgia State Patrol trooper who fatally shot a Black man during an attempted traffic stop has been arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. Trooper Jacob Gordon Thompson, who is white, was arrested on Friday (Aug. 14) in connection with 60-year-old Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis’ death, which occurred on Aug. 7.
According to a news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Thompson tried to pull over Lewis for a traffic-related offense, but he allegedly refused to stop. Thompson then pursued Lewis using a “Precision Intervention Technique,” which caused Lewis’ car to stop in a ditch. The Bureau writes that Thompson then fired one shot striking Lewis in the face and he was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy of Lewis’ body will be performed by the GBI Crime Lab.
According to the release, Thompson will be booked at the Screven County Jail and has been fired from the state’s Department of Public Safety. The Bureau notes that the investigation into the incident is ongoing and will be turned over to the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney upon completion.
According to a statement issued to CNN, FBI officials are also in contact with local and state authorities about the police shooting.
“The FBI is aware of the Screven County matter and we have been in contact with local and state authorities,” FBI Atlanta public affairs specialist Kevin Rowson told the outlet. “The FBI is always prepared to investigate whenever information comes to light of a potential federal violation.”
CNN also reports that it’s unclear whether or not Thompson has an attorney. Statesboro Civil Rights Attorney Francys Johnson — who is representing Lewis’ family — issued a statement about the arrest on Friday (Aug. 14).
“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,” Johnson said. “The GBI and now the FBI, who have launched a separate civil rights investigation, have done what was right at this stage. I rarely get to say that.”
“I want justice for Julian. He was too good to die as he did. This is one step towards justice,” Lewis’ wife Betty added in the statement. “My husband was somebody’s father, somebody’s son, somebody’s nephew, brother and he’s gone by the hands of a murderer.”
Georgia’s NAACP also rallied in support of Lewis after the chapter declared a state of emergency in Georgia “with respect to the never ending acts of police violence that regularly and consistently put our communities in danger.” A press release from the chapter called for criminal charges to be filed against Thompson and for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a civil right investigation into the shooting.
Lewis was remembered by his community and loved ones on Friday evening (Aug. 14) with a candlelight vigil.