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Protesters demand Nicholas Thomas investigation be turned over to GBI | News

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Protesters demand Nicholas Thomas investigation be turned over to GBI
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Protesters demand Nicholas Thomas investigation be turned over to GBI

SMYRNA, GA (WXIA) -- The father of Nicholas Thomas and a crowd of several hundred gathered on the steps of Smyrna City Hall Tuesday evening, calling for Cobb County to turn over the investigation of his shooting death to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Thomas was working at a Goodyear Service Center on Cumberland Boulevard in Vinings. Witnesses say he was pulling a customer's Maserati to the back bay to be serviced when Smyrna Police arrived with backup from Cobb County officers to serve a warrant on Thomas for a probation violation.

Police say they told Thomas to stop and get out of the car, but he didn't. And at one point, they said he tried to back up toward them.

It was Smyrna Police Sergeant Kenneth Owens who shot and fired into the Maserati, killing Thomas. Owens has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation. His attorney, Lance Lorusso, says what he did was justified.

"He used deadly force appropriately to prevent another uniformed officer from being run over by a car," said Lorusso.

"Kenneth Owens, I know your face, and you're a coward," Thomas' father, Huey Thomas, during Tuesday's rally.

The crowd at the rally said what happened has become yet another questionable officer-involved shooting in metro Atlanta.

Thomas' family insists that while Cobb County may have jurisdiction in the investigation, the fact that their officers were involved in serving the warrant, and that Owens used to work for them, makes them question how impartial the Cobb County Police Department can be in the matter.

"Until the GBI investigates, right now, I don't want anyone to support Cumberland Mall and give them your money," said Nicholas Thomas' brother, T. J. Thomas, to the crowd at the rally.

Both Cumberland Mall and the Goodyear Tire Center are just outside of the city limits of Smyrna, and are in unincorporated Cobb County.

So is it routine for the GBI to be called in, in cases like this? The answer is yes, and no. Bigger police departments, like Cobb County, the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County, do investigate their own officer-involved shootings. It should be noted, however, there have been two recent officer-involved shootings in DeKalb County, and in both cases, the county automatically asked the GBI to take over those investigations.

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