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Case against ex-trooper advances in Screven County killing of Black driver

Jacob Thompson in court.
Jacob Thompson in court.(WRDW)
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 3:56 AM EDT
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SYLVANIA, Ga. (WTOC) - The felony murder case against a state trooper in Screven County will move forward following a preliminary hearing Monday.

Trooper Jake Thompson faces charges in the shooting death of a Julian Lewis back in August after a chase. Thompson said he was trying to stop Lewis for a broken tail light but Lewis would not stop his car.

The prosecutors painted the picture of an officer who reacted badly following a chase and gave an inconsistent story afterward. Defense attorneys brought forward details about the driver and what they consider his possible mindset before and during the chase.

Thompson appeared in court for the first time since a hearing to request bond which was denied. In court, prosecutors questioned one of the GBI agents in the case who said the evidence that night contradicted Thompson’s claims that Lewis was trying to back up his car and hit Thompson when the trooper shot Lewis in the head.

They testified that Lewis' car was disabled because the battery had shaken loose and the wheels showed no sign that Lewis was trying to turn the wheel or back up. They also testified to what they say Thompson’s dash cam video showed.

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“We determined that approximately one second after Trooper Thompson took his foot off the brake of his patrol vehicle, there was one shot that was fired,” said Spec. Agent Dustin Peak with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Defense attorneys called GBI forensics experts to the stand to testify that Julian Lewis had cocaine, meth, and Prozac in his system at the time of his death and those could have affected his driving or behavior. They also submitted that Lewis was on probation and had lost his license and that might have been his motivation not to stop for Thompson.

From here, the case will go before a grand jury to decide if it goes to trial.

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