A Cobb County Grand Jury ruled Thursday that the fatal police shooting of a man wanted for a probation violation was justified.
District Attorney Vic Reynolds announced the grand jury’s findings in the March 24th shooting death of Nicholas Thomas by a Smyrna police sergeant.
The Grand Jury recommended no further action be taken in the case.
In the release, Reynolds said “The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas’ survivors. 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 shooting death has sparked weeks of protests by Thomas’ family members and critics who complain Thomas was shot in the back by the officer.
Following demands by the Thomas family, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated the shooting at the request of the Cobb District Attorney’s Office and the Cobb County Police Department, and with the support of the Smyrna Police Department.
According to Reynolds, both the GBI and Cobb Police concluded the shooting was justified under the facts and the law.
Thomas’ parents, however, have said police did not need to kill their 24-year-old son, contending the probation violation involved a traffic citation.
There are two, completely different pictures of Nicholas Thomas.
One is the "good kid" his parents describe: The father of a young child, who was "improving himself" with a new job at a Cobb County tire shop. The shop manager says Thomas always came in early and left late.
But the other picture of Thomas comes with a series of mug shots. He was arrested and charged with several crimes between 2011 and 2013, three of which included fleeing from or charging at police.
Loved ones have told FOX 5 they are not glossing over Thomas' criminal history. But they insist that history doesn't make it okay to rationalize his death.
"You don't get a death sentence for running from police," said Thomas family attorney Mawuli Davis in an earlier interview.
The most serious of Thomas' prior convictions was in 2013. He plead guilty to a number of charges in Cobb County, including aggravated assault on a Kennesaw State University Police Officer. The indictment says Thomas was "driving and accelerating his motor vehicle at said officer."
In 2011 Thomas was charged with fleeing from police, during a traffic stop in Fulton County.
And in 2014, he was convicted of obstructing an officer, during a theft case in Clayton County.
Court records show, Thomas violated his parole in the Clayton County case and that's why officers showed up at his job at a Goodyear store on the afternoon of March 24th.
This case is now closed and subject to Georgia’s Open Records Act.
The family spoke out on Friday in response to the findings of the grand jury and vowed that the case isn't over yet.
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