Family of 60-year-old Black man killed by Georgia trooper reaches $4.8M settlement 

The trooper was fired days after the killing, but a grand jury declined to indict the white officer on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.

The family of a Black man who was shot in the face and killed by a Georgia state trooper after a traffic stop for a broken tail light has reached a settlement of nearly $5 million.

Per, the trooper, Jacob Thompson, claims 60-year-old Julian Lewis, sped away in August 2020 when Thompson attempted to stop him for the alleged violation. Thompson used the controversial PIT maneuver, causing Lewis’ car to crash into a ditch. The maneuver involves a police officer using his vehicle to intentionally “tap” another vehicle—usually one that is evading a chase. The tap, at high rates of speed, can result in a crash. 

Lewis’ family, however, contends that their relative likely continued driving because it was night, and he would have preferred to have contact with law enforcement “where he knew other people would be present,” the law firm representing the family told The New York Times.

The family of Julian Lewis, the 60-year-old Georgian shot dead by a state trooper in August 2020, has reached a settlement of nearly $5 million. (Photo: Courtesy of Lewis family attorney)

According to the reporting from WSB, Lewis turned on his hazard signals and used his hands to motion to officers as he drew to a stop. However, the trooper contended that he feared for his life.

The trooper wrote in the original incident report that he saw Lewis “wrenching the steering wheel in an aggressive back and forth manner towards me and my patrol vehicle. It appeared that the violator was trying to use his vehicle to injure me.”

Thompson then shot Lewis while he was still in the driver’s seat, WSB reported. According to an attorney representing the family, the settlement is one part of the resolution. “The family has directed us to continue to push for the criminal responsibility, and we shall,” attorney Francys Johnson told the Times.

“Our hearts grieve for Betty Lewis, who lost her Golden Years with her husband because of unwarranted and unnecessary deadly force during what should have been a routine traffic stop,” said Andrew Lampros, Co-Founder and Partner at Hall & Lampros, the firm representing the family.

Attorneys say this is the largest settlement in Georgia since 1990.

According to reporting by the Times, Thompson was fired days after the shooting, but a jury failed to indict him on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault in June last year.

Lewis’ mother, Lindsay Milton, told the Times that she thought race played a role in grand jurors declining to indict Thompson. After the failure to return an indictment, she told the paper, “They’re going to let this young man go free ’cause my child was a Black man.”

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