A former Georgia State Patrol trooper charged with felony murder recounted details of the Aug. 7 shooting in reports released to the Statesboro Herald on Monday.
Former Trooper First Class Jacob G. Thompson was fired from Georgia State Patrol Post 21 in Sylvania on Friday after being charged with the felony murder of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, a 60-year-old man he had tried to stop for a broken tail light.
After a weeklong investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Thompson, 27, on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. He is being held in the Screven County Jail as he awaits a bond hearing.
The GBI arrest was conducted “in coordination with the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit” (district attorney’s office) and “supports the charges and is active and ongoing,” according to a statement issued Friday by GBI Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles.
In a report narrative dated Aug. 10, three days after the shooting, Thompson described in his own words what he said happened during the incident on Stoney Pond Road.
“To the best of my recollection,” he said, he saw Lewis’ 1996 Nissan Sentra pass by at around 50 mph, with a reportedly “broken taillight.” He pulled in behind Lewis. When Lewis sped up to around “65 miles per hour or more,” Thompson switched on his blue lights and followed Lewis, he stated.
“The violator activated his turn signals in both directions but otherwise gave no indication that he intended to stop,” he wrote in the report. After following Lewis for a distance, “the driver motioned out of his driver’s side window,” Thompson wrote.
“After turning onto Simmons Branch Road, however, he made no attempt to stop his vehicle. It became apparent to me that the violator did not intend to stop his vehicle.”
Thompson said he then “radioed dispatch that I was involved in a pursuit and activated my siren. As I pursued the violator, I observed him start to smoke a cigarette. As we approached the stop sign at the intersection of Simmons Branch Road, Cameron Road, and Stoney Pond Road, the violator passed through the intersection and did not come to a complete stop.”
At this point, since Lewis did not stop, “for safety reasons, I decided to perform a PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver to safely end the pursuit,” Thompson said. “The violator’s vehicle spun and crashed along the side of Stoney Pond Road before coming to rest.”
In his report, Thompson wrote: “I stopped my patrol vehicle approximately even with the violator’s vehicle. Being concerned for my safety, I drew my weapon as I got out of the vehicle. At some point, I heard the engine on the violator’s vehicle revving at a high rate of speed. I activated the light on my weapon and observed the violator with both hands on the steering wheel. I saw him wrenching the steering wheel in an aggressive back and forth manner towards me and my patrol vehicle.”
Thompson, whose report said he parked even with Lewis’ car, said he feared for his safety.
“It appeared to me that the violator was trying to use his vehicle to injure me. Being in fear for my life and safety, I discharged my weapon once.”
According to GBI reports, Lewis’ car was in the ditch of the dirt road after the crash.
“I recall ordering him to show me his hands, but he remained motionless,” Thompson wrote. “I advised dispatch that shots had been fired. I looked at the violator and observed that the shot struck the violator in the forehead. ... I did what I could to render first aid to the violator.”
Shortly after the shooting, other GSP troopers and additional law enforcement arrived. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bond hearing postponed
A bond hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning in front of Ogeechee Judicial District Circuit Superior Court Judge Lovett Bennett was postponed, according to the Screven County Clerk’s Office. Bennett’s office had not set a new date for the hearing as of Monday.
Lewis’ family is being represented by a panel of attorneys, including Francys Johnson of Statesboro.
On Friday, Johnson told the Statesboro Herald: “Mr. Lewis never got out of the vehicle, and the investigation will show that, mere seconds after the crash, he was shot to death, shot in the face and killed.”
Also on Friday, in speaking with an Associated Press reporter, Thompson's attorney, Keith Barber, declined to comment on specifics of the case but said he believes the former trooper “has an excellent character.”
“I think he’s a fine trooper,” Barber said. "I think at the end of the day, he will be exonerated in this case.”
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.