Protests surround promotion of Smyrna officer who killed Nicholas Thomas

Smyrna police had to quickly escort city council members out of city hall and shut down Monday night’s council meeting after protesters started shouting.

They rallied behind the family of a man who was shot and killed by a Smyrna officer who was promoted to Lieutenant Monday.

Nicholas Thomas, 23, was shot and killed by Smyrna police Sgt. Kenneth Owens last year when police went to serve an arrest warrant.

Thomas was working at the Cumberland Goodyear and took off in a customer's Maserati.

Owens said he opened fire on Thomas because he feared for the life of another officer.

Police officers blocked the chamber doors at one point Monday night and escorted people out as they shouted: “We’ll be back.”

An officer kept our reporter and photographer back as protesters marched out of the city council chambers holding “Justice for Nick” signs.

“We here to shut Smyrna down. We going to boycott Cumberland Mall. We are going to make sure black people don’t spend no money in Smyrna or Marietta,” said Dre Propst.

Smyrna police promoted Officer Kenneth Owens to lieutenant Monday nearly 11 months after Nicholas Thomas’s death.

Owens shot and killed 23-year-old Thomas on Cumberland Parkway while attempting to serve a warrant last March.

“People are upset an officer can kill an unarmed person and still be under investigation by the feds and get a promotion. It’s disrespectful to my family,” said Triston Thomas, Nicholas Thomas’ older brother.

Things came to a head when a woman spoke out in support of police.

“We have the Black Mafia the KKK. We have the Bloods -- let me talk…they are thieving, raping, doing gang initiations…let me talk! Let me talk! Who stands behind criminals? Police are the only ones we got now,” said Newman.

Thomas’ family vowed to keep fighting.

“It’s horrible! It’s disrespectful. The fact that an officer is getting a promotion shows no type of respect for my family,” said Triston Thomas.

The GBI and a grand jury cleared Owens. The Thomas family would like another grand jury to look at the case. A Smyrna city spokeswoman told Channel 2 Action News that they resumed the meeting after the protesters left.

She said the officer’s promotion was never on the agenda.