Countering the original claims by Cobb County and Smyrna police officers that Nicholas Thomas endangered officers’ lives by allegedly driving a Maserati towards them, an autopsy report stated that the 23-year-old man was shot in the back.
The autopsy report also ruled Thomas’ death a homicide.
Thomas was killed in March by a Smyrna police officer as he tried to flee in a Maserati after Cobb and Smyrna officers came to serve a warrant for his arrest stemming from an outstanding case in Clayton County. The family has never denied that Thomas tried to get away, but they contend the officers lied when they said the Maserati was speeding towards them and endangering officers’ safety.
According to the AJC, the autopsy report says the bullet entered Thomas’ body “in his right upper back and moved left and downward puncturing ribs, both lungs and the aorta. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The autopsy is critically important because Smyrna police’s original report said the officer only fired into the car because he was in fear for his life, saying the Maserati was headed towards him. The Smyrna Police Department spokesman refused to comment on the autopsy report.
Owens has since returned to work, albeit in an administrative capacity.
“The manner of death is classified as homicide,” the autopsy says. “The designation … does not necessarily indicate improper actions on the part of police.”
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds is taking the case to a civil grand jury next month.
Mawuli Davis of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm said Reynolds should let Thomas’ surviving family view the surveillance video that captured the shooting before it is shown to the civil grand jury.
Davis said the video is also critical to the case because Owens was the only officer to fire his weapon, and claimed he did so because he feared for his life.
“He shot into the side of the car,” Davis told the newspaper. “Unless a car can travel sideways, I don’t know how you can be in fear of your life.”