Smyrna, GA -- Meet 24-year-old Nicholas Taft Thomas, father to a beautiful baby girl, who is barely 5-months-old. His name sadly became another hashtag on Tuesday, when police took his life shortly after 1:30 pm.
The incident began when three Smyrna police officers and four officers with the Cobb County Police Department arrived at the Goodyear store where Thomas worked to serve him with a warrant for a probation violation, reportedly for a traffic offense.
When the young father saw the officers at his place of employment, he attempted to flee and jumped into a white Maserati. Perhaps the new parent who was working hard to repay his traffic debt did not want his job jeopardized by the police causing a scene.
The police claim that, as usual, "they feared for their lives," alleging Thomas was attempting to use the vehicle as a weapon to run down the officers. Witnesses came forward immediately to the press, challenging the official report and essentially calling it a bold faced lie.
“They were standing behind the car, opening fire. He wasn't driving towards them,” Goodyear customer Brittany Eustache told Channel 2 at the scene.
“The car was not moving when they began to shoot at him. The car had been stopped, he hit curb he could go any further,” she said.
“So at no point was he making any aggressive moves?” the reporter asked her.
“None, none at all. They immediately opened fire on them,” Eustache said.
Supporting the witnesses allegation is the fact that there were no visible bullet holes in the windshield or front of the car, a likely place for a bullet to enter- had he been driving at the officers as they claim.
His mother arrived at the scene and tearfully described her son as a "lovable guy" who loved his family and would "do anything for anyone."
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"You think Trayvon Martin's mother was on a rampage? I am taking this to the next level," his mother boldly stated at the scene of her sons killing.
It is currently unclear how many officers fired their weapons or how many times Thomas was shot.
A spokesperson for the Smyrna Police Department told WSBtv that the shooting has already taken an "emotional toll" on the officers involved. Unfortunately, that toll will pale in comparison to the emotional toll it will take on the baby girl who has been left without a father thanks to these trigger happy police.
In 1985, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Tennessee v. Garner, a 15 year old boy who was shot in the back of the head by a police officer as he attempted to flee after a robbery. The court ruled that cops could no longer legally kill someone only for attempting to escape. The officer must now have a reasonable belief that the suspect poses a dangerous threat to someone or had committed a violent felony.
In May of last year however, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of three Arkansas police officers who fired 15 bullets at a fleeing motorist and his passenger, killing them both.
The Plumhoff v. Rickard decision ruled that officers did not use excessive force and were entitled to “qualified immunity" from any consequences for their actions. The judge stated that since Rickard could not flee without posing a threat to the officers, the officers were entitled to kill him and his passenger because “Rickard's flight posed a grave public safety risk,” the “police acted reasonably in using deadly force to end that risk.”
Ever since this decision it has seemed as though the "car was being used as a weapon" excuse has skyrocketed and become the new "he was reaching for his waistband."
A simple search on The Free Thought Project for the words "fleeing suspect" will give you a terrifying glimpse at how frequently situations like this continue to occur.