The widow of Julian E. Lewis, a Black man who was fatally shot by a Georgia state trooper in August 2020, will receive a $4.8 million settlement from the state, attorneys representing the family said.
“While the record-making settlement does not bring back her husband for widow Betty Lewis and other family and loved ones, it sends a powerful message to the State and those in law enforcement and other positions of power that unnecessary use of force against innocent citizens is unlawful, morally corrupt and carries legal consequences,” a statement released by Hall and Lampros, Attorneys at Law said.
Lewis, 60, was shot in the face and killed when trooper Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, attempted to stop him for a traffic-related offense in Screven County near Savannah.
When Lewis refused to stop, Thompson gave a brief chase before using a “precision Intervention technique,” sending the car to a stop in a ditch, according to a statement released by Georgia Bureau of Investigation at the time the incident occurred.
Thompson then fired one shot, striking Lewis in the face. Lewis was pronounced dead on the scene.
“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,” attorney Andrew Lampros said in the statement.
Thompson was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, but a grand jury declined to indict him. He was terminated from the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
CNN’s calls to Thompson’s attorney were not returned, but the attorney, Keith Barber, declined to comment to the New York Times.
Lewis’ family has asked for a second grand jury to look at the case. The US Attorney’s office announced last year it was in consultation with the FBI regarding the shooting’s circumstances.
“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,” Lampros said. “We were prepared to sue the trooper, the department and its leadership asserting both Constitutional claims as well as state law tort claims.”
The attorneys said the settlement is the largest in Georgia since at least 1990, referencing historical data they obtained from the Georgia Department of Administrative Services through an Open Records request.
Kara Richardson, spokesperson for the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, confirmed the settlement for $4.8 million but did not provide any additional comment on it.
CNN reached out to the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia State Administrative Services for comment, but has not yet received a response.