$4.8 million settlement awarded to widow of man killed by Georgia state trooper

Julian Lewis was shot in the head by now-fired Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jacob Thompson, according to investigators.

Credit: Handout photos

Credit: Handout photos

Julian Lewis was shot in the head by now-fired Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jacob Thompson, according to investigators.

The widow of a man killed by a Georgia state trooper over an alleged broken taillight in 2020 was awarded a $4.8 million settlement, the family’s attorney said Thursday.

The tort settlement, awarded to the family of Julian E. Lewis, is the largest since 1990, according to data provided by the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, attorney Andrew Lampros said.

“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,” Lampos said in an emailed statement. “The events of that August night should never have happened. Shooting an unarmed man without cause is unconscionable, and violates the freedom that the United States Constitution guarantees all individuals.”

On Aug. 7, 2020, Trooper Jacob Gordon Thompson tried to pull over Lewis in Screven County over a broken taillight. After a brief chase, Thompson used a PIT maneuver to stop the Nissan Sentra that Lewis was driving, according to investigators. Thompson then shot Lewis in the head, killing him. Lewis was 60.

Julian Lewis' widow, Betty Lewis, speaks about the death of her husband, who was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol trooper near his Sylvania home in August 2020. She was flanked by her son Eric Clay (left) and the family's attorneys, Andrew Lampros (right) and Akil Secret, during a news conference at the Georgia State Capitol.

Credit: Diane Crow Photography

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Credit: Diane Crow Photography

According to the GBI, Thompson gave inconsistent statements regarding events that happened before the shooting. Thompson said he thought Lewis was about to run him over, but authorities found the car was actually disabled when the trooper fired.

The Georgia State Patrol fired Thompson, who was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault within days of the shooting. On June 28, 2021, a grand jury recommended no charges against Thompson.

The Lewis family has requested both a second grand jury and that federal investigators get involved. In September, Lewis’ son organized a 63-mile march from where his father was killed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Savannah.

“This march is my response to the grand jury’s failure to indict the trooper who killed my father,” Brook Bacon said before the march. “What the grand jury did was worse than what Jacob Gordon Thompson did when he shot my father in the head. It was murder when Thompson killed my father.

“But what this grand jury has killed is any faith Black people can have in this justice system. So I must appeal to the federal government like so many other people have had to do across American history,” Bacon said.

In December, relatives and their attorneys held a news conference at Liberty Plaza outside the Georgia State Capitol.

The attorneys for the Lewis family said the dashcam video showed Lewis motioning to Thompson, appearing to point to a house down the street where he planned to pull over. The video didn’t show the shooting, but a gunshot can be heard about two seconds after Thompson’s cruiser stopped, the attorneys said.

That video has not been made public. Thompson was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting.