SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – Relatives of a man who was shot dead by a Georgian police officer who is now charged with murder, suing the state for wrongful death.
Lawyers for Julian Lewis’s family members filed a lawsuit in federal court in Savannah on Monday. The state has 30 days to respond or lawyers say they will move on with the lawsuit.
Jacob Thompson is charged with murder and aggravated assault in Lewis’ death on August 7th. Thompson was on duty with the Georgia State Patrol when he tried to pull Lewis for a broken taillight in rural Screven County. When Lewis refused to stop, the soldier chased him and forced his car into a ditch, then shot Lewis in the head.
Lewis’ wife Betty Lewis told local news outlets that his death was “devastating” at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.
“The money won’t bring my husband back; No amount of money will bring him back, ”she said. “I loved my husband. He is not here. But justice is served. “
The criminal case awaits the grand jury’s lawsuit, but Lewis’ family is demanding $ 1 million in damages, which is the most allowed under state law. The family also plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit demanding an additional $ 12 million.
Thompson wrote in his incident report that he shot Lewis while Lewis was cranking his engine and turning his steering wheel like he was about to ram the soldier. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Dustin Peak testified in September that it was impossible because Lewis’ car battery shut off when it hit the ditch and the vehicle was no longer functional.
Peak testified that the dash camera video had elapsed a second between leaving the patrol car and the shot that killed Lewis.
“Julian Lewis should be alive today,” said Francys Jonson, a lawyer for the Lewis family, on Monday.
Johnson urged the state to reach an agreement without waiting for the lawsuit to be filed.
“Julian Lewis was my only son and this young man took my only son away from me,” said Lewis’ mother Lindsay Milton. “And it’s in the process of getting me out of here.”