Cobb D.A. won't pursue charges in Nicholas Thomas case
D.A.: 'Police officers in Georgia are authorized to fire their weapons to protect themselves or others from immediate bodily harm'
- Joeff Davis/CL File
- The parents of Nicholas Thomas hold a photo for their son, Nicholas, and his infant daughter.
Smyrna Police Department Officer Sgt. Kenneth Owens will not face charges for fatally shooting 23-year-old tire shop employee Nicholas Thomas nearly four months ago.
A Cobb County grand jury today deemed the shooting to be justified and recommended Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds to not pursue further action against Owens for his use of lethal force on March 24. On that afternoon, Smyrna and Cobb County law enforcement officers attempted to serve Thomas with an arrest warrant after he had failed to pay $170 in probation fees.
Thomas, who had a previous history of evading police but had recently tried to resolve his legal issues, attempted to flee the scene in a Maserati sports car that was being serviced at the Goodyear tire shop where he worked. Owens, who claimed to have feared for his safety, fired at least six rounds at the side of the Maserati. Thomas was unarmed at the time of his death.
Cobb County Police, which faced backlash after initially attempting to investigate the case, eventually handed the probe over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. On June 17, the state agency handed over their findings to Reynolds, who presented the evidence to a civil grand jury.
“The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas’s survivors," Reynolds said in a statement. "But when he drove the vehicle toward officers in the manner he did, the officer who fired the shots was justified under the law to use lethal force. Police officers in Georgia are authorized to fire their weapons to protect themselves or others from immediate bodily harm. That is what happened in this case.”
The Thomas family, who has criticized the use of lethal force and officers' accounts about the alleged threat to their safety, has recently urged federal authorities to become involved in the investigation. We've reached out to them for comment — and about their future plans for legal action — and will update this post once we receive more details.