WTOC Investigates: Screven Co. chase began after attempted traffic stop for broken tail light

WTOC Investigates: Screven Co. chase began after attempted traffic stop for broken tail light

SCREVEN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) -A broken tail light is the reason why a state trooper pursued driver Julian Lewis on the night he was shot and killed.

The detail is from a Georgia State Patrol incident report, which lays out the trooper’s version of what happened on the night of Aug. 7th.

Trooper Jacob G. Thompson, 27, is charged with murder after his arrest Friday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The Georgia Department of Public Safety fired him the same day.

The charges came a week after the shooting in Sylvania.

Here’s a breakdown of what the GSP incident report says:

At about 9 p.m., a vehicle with a broken tail light passed the trooper on U.S. Route 301. Trooper Thompson said he pulled behind the driver 60-year-old Julian Lewis and noticed the driver sped up to around 65 miles an hour or more. Thompson said in the report he activated his emergency lights.

Lewis then turned on his hazard lights and motioned out his driver’s side window near Simmons Branch Road, where he turned.

When Trooper Thompson said it became apparent to him the driver wasn’t going to stop, he notified dispatch that he was involved in a pursuit with a siren, according to the report.

Lewis did not stop his vehicle for two and a half miles, according to details in the report.

As the two neared Stoney Pond Road, the trooper noted in the report “for safety reasons, I decided to perform a PIT maneuver to safely end the pursuit.”

The force of the crash caused Lewis’ car to end up in a ditch, with both vehicles came to a stop parallel to each other.

“Being concerned for my safety, I drew my weapon as I got out of the vehicle,” the trooper said in the report. “At some point, I heard the engine on the violator’s vehicle revving at a high rate of speed. I activated the light on my weapon and observed the violator with both hands on the steering wheel. I saw him wrenching the steering wheel in an aggressive back and forth manner towards me and my patrol vehicle. It appeared that the violator was trying to use his vehicle to injure me.”

That’s when Trooper Thompson said he was in fear for his life and safety, prompting him to fire his gun once. The bullet struck Lewis in the forehead, the report said.

The report states that he did what he could to render first aid, until a volunteer firefighter arrived on the scene.

WTOC obtained a copy of the incident report, which is available below.

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