1,000 Demand Justice for Nick Thomas, Slain by Smyrna PD
(APN) ATLANTA — An estimated one thousand people gathered outside of Smyrna City Hall on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, to hold a vigil for Nicholas Thomas, the latest Metro Atlanta victim of police homicide.
On March 24, 2015, Mr. Thomas, age 24, was working at a Goodyear Tire Shop near Cumberland Mall, when Smyrna police arrived to serve him a warrant for violating probation.
What happened next remains disputed. Police say the young man jumped into a customer’s car and tried to run over the officers, prompting Officer Ken Owens to fire his gun into the car.
But according to attorney Mawuli Davis, the Thomas family’s lawyer, the tire shop manager said Thomas had a work order on the car and was already in the vehicle when police approached him.
Furthermore, a customer who witnessed the shooting told WSBTV Channel 2 television news that Thomas never tried to drive toward any officer and that Owens fired his weapon while the car was at a standstill.
Marcus Coleman, an activist and one of the speakers at Tuesday’s vigil, told the crowd that a witness contacted him the day after the shooting and shared a similar story.
“So what was it?” Coleman asked. “Were they amped up? Were they pumped up? Was it time to shoot them another n*****?”
While the corporate media initially characterized Thomas as a troublemaker with a criminal record, a CBS Atlanta Channel 46 television news report published the same day as the vigil exposed that Officer Owens himself has a criminal background.
According to the report, in 1999, Owens attacked his wife when he discovered she didn’t have his uniform “pressed and ready” for him.
He was arrested for battery and subsequently resigned from his position with the Cobb County Police Department. However, the Smyrna Police Department hired Owens in 2001, while he was still on probation.
According to Thomas’s family, the slain man’s warrant stemmed from a traffic violation.
The Smyrna Police Department has so far declined to confirm or deny this.
“Violation of probation is not a death sentence,” Coleman said at the vigil. “Being Black and young in America is not a death sentence.”
Thomas’s family members spoke at the vigil. His mother, Felicia Thomas, said that her son did not die in vain.
“He died for change… this has got to end right here in Atlanta, Georgia,” she said.
T.J. Thomas countered media reports that cast his younger brother in a negative light.
“My brother was a good guy. He didn’t deserve to die. He loved his daughter, London. He loved his big brother, his dad, his mom. He loved cars. He was a good kid,” the brother said.
Baby London was present at the rally wearing a shirt that read, “I want justice for my dad.”
T.J. Thomas called on supporters to boycott Cumberland Mall until Smyrna PD agrees to invite the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent investigation.
Other speakers included local radio personalities, faith leaders, rapper Shawty Lo, and social justice leaders from Southern Christian Leadership Conference, It’s Bigger Than You, and many other groups.
DeLisa Davis, whose brother, Kevin Davis, was killed by DeKalb County Police in December, also spoke.
“[Police] can’t run around and gun down our brothers and sons like dogs in the street,” she said.