Family of man shot and killed by Smyrna cop files civil rights lawsuit

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Family of man shot and killed by Smyrna cop files civil rights lawsuit

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JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Cajun Snorton (right) was engaged to Nick Thomas who was shot in the back by a Smyrna police officer claiming he was protecting a fellow officer. Now, Snorton is suing.

The City of Smyrna, the Kennesaw State University Police Department, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds and a Smyrna police lieutenant are all facing a federal civil rights lawsuit.

On March 22 — just days before before the two-year limit to file the suit — the fiancee of Nicholas Thomas submitted the paperwork.

Thomas with was shot in the back in March 2015 by Smyrna officer, Sgt. Kenneth Owens, outside the Cumberland Parkway Goodyear where the 23-year-old father worked as a mechanic.

A grand jury decided in July 2015 that the shooting was justified.

Rich Pellegrino, longtime South Cobb activist and head of the Nick Thomas Justice Coalition, said the lawsuit is based on “not only (on) the incident of the murder of Nick Thomas,” but also on “collusion between the city of Smyrna and the district attorney’s office.”

Officer Kenneth Owens, now a lieutenant with the Smyrna Police Department (Smyrna Police)

None of those named in the lawsuit would comment on the legal filing.

When Kenneth Owens was promoted to lieutenant, Smyrna council meetings were shut down due to protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter!” at city officials.

When asked why Thomas tried to flee from cops in that Maserati, Pellegrino said nationally publicized police shootings have left young black men scared.

An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on fatal police shootings showed there were 29 such incidents throughout the state in 2015.

“Many of the young black men I’ve talked to have said they are not stopping anymore,” Pellegrino said.

The Smyrna police department hoped the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision will end the protests over the Nicholas Thomas shooting. AJC.com
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