Protestors in Smyrna took a stand Monday night following the controversial promotion of a Smyrna officer who shot and killed 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas last year.
Sgt. Kenneth Owens was promoted to Lieutenant Monday night during a city council meeting. Protestors began shouting during the ceremony and according to the AJC, city council members had to be escorted out of city hall due to the commotion.
The protestors were rallying behind the family of Thomas, who was shot and killed by Owens when police went to serve an arrest warrant last March. Thomas was working at the Cumberland Goodyear at that time and before the warrant could be served, took off in a customer’s vehicle. He left the store and got into a white, four-door Maserati, police said.
“It was not known who owned the high-end luxury car. But police said the man drove it toward officers, prompting police to fire multiple shots at the vehicle,” a March 24 AJC article reads. “Thomas died at the scene near Cumberland Mall.”
A witness to the shooting said the Maserati had hit a curb and was not driving toward officers when shots were fired.
The protestors were reportedly shouting at the Monday night meeting “we’ll be back” and were carrying “Justice for Nick” signs as police officers blocked the chamber doors and escorted people out.
The promotion for Owens comes nearly 11 months after Thomas’s death.
One woman spoke out in support of the police at the meeting, bringing things to a head. Thomas’ family vowed to keep fighting.
Owens was cleared by a grand jury and a GBI investigation into the incident. Both the GBI and Cobb County Police say Owens was justified in the shooting and recommended that no further action be taken in the case, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office announced in July of 2015. The Thomas family is hoping another grand jury will 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.