Georgia state trooper Jacob Thompson claimed he was in fear for his life when he shot and killed a 60-year-old man named Julian Lewis after trying to pull him over for a broken taillight in 2020
But his story quickly fell apart when dash cam video showed he shot the man in the head within two seconds after forcing the man’s car into a ditch using a PIT (precision immobilization technique) maneuver, according to testimony from a state investigator.
On Thursday, Lewis’ widow, Betty Lewis, agreed to a $4.8 million settlement from the state of Georgia, the largest settlement of its kind in Georgia since 1990, according to The Augusta Chronicle.
However, dash and body cam from the incident still have not been released to the public but those who have seen it say it leaves little doubt that Lewis was killed in cold blood.
Nevertheless, a grand jury last year declined to indict Thompson on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault after presumably watching the video. He had been fired and charged one week after the incident.
However, Thompson, who was named Trooper of the Year in 2019, is still being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The federal agencies launched the investigation in September 2021, three months after the grand jury’s decision.
“We think that the prosecutors, the public should know why the state has resolved this matter in this historic way and they should release the body cam footage, the footage from the video, all footage should be release. the taxpayers should know what we all know, that Julian Lewis was murdered,” said Mawuli Mel Davis, an attorney for Lewis’ family.
The incident took place on August 7, 2020 when Thompson attempted to pull over Lewis for a broken taillight on a rural road in Screven County, about 60 miles northwest of Savannah.
Police say Lewis refused to stop, leading Thompson on a pursuit through several rural roads.
“It is believed that Lewis was attempting to drive toward a more familiar area where he knew other people would be present — a practice commonly taught to people who may feel vulnerable in isolated areas where there is nobody else present to witness events,” attorneys for the Lewis family told WXIA-TV.
Attorneys who have viewed the dash cam video say that Lewis using his turn signals and was pointing to a house down the street trying to tell the cop he planned to pull over in that location, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Thompson, who was 27 at the time, eventually forced Lewis’ car into a ditch with the PIT maneuver but then claimed to have been in fear for his life when Lewis revved up his car engine, making him believe he was about to be run over.
“It appeared to me that the violator was trying to use his vehicle to injure me,” Thompson wrote in his report, according to USA Today.“Being in fear for my life and safety, I discharged my weapon once.”
However, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Dustin Peak testified during last year’s grand jury hearing that the dash cam video contradicts Thompson’s report, testifying that Thompson shot him within two seconds of stepping out his vehicle while Lewis had both hands on the steering wheel.
Peak also testified that it would have been impossible for Lewis to have been revving his engine because the car battery became disconnected after Thompson’s PIT maneuver, according to the Associated Press.
“He was a kind soul. He was a people person. He would take his shirt off for you,” said his widow, Betty Lewis, during a rally in 2020.