To hear Felicia Thomas tell the story, her son Nicholas Thomas was a “lovable guy,” who “would do anything for anybody.”
That “lovable guy” was a violent felon with a history of assaulting police officers, including a previous attempt to run over an arresting officer.
When six police officers arrived to take Nicholas Thomas into custody for a parole violation following a felony conviction, Thomas stole a customer’s Maserati, and things quickly went south from there:
Police said that when they showed up at the Goodyear Service Center on Cumberland Parkway, where he worked, Thomas jumped into a customer’s Maserati and started to drive off and would not surrender.
“The cop yelled, and he said, ‘get out the car, get out the car now,’ and he just drove off. Then, he put it in reverse, there was nothing the cop could do from there,” said witness Ryan Rose. So, I guess he— the cop shot at the car.”
“The suspect drove his car toward officers, putting officers in fear for their lives, at which time the officers fired into the vehicle, shooting the suspect,” said Smyrna Police Sgt. Ed Cason.
All that Nicholas Thomas had to do was give himself up without a fight, something that you would hope he would learn after the criminal record he earned because of his prior assaults on police officers. Instead, he stole a customer’s car and then apparently used it as a weapon, driving it at police officers.
Judging by the gunshots on the passenger side of the Maserati, at least one officer off to the side of the vehicle opened fire as Thomas attempted to run down officers that were in front of the vehicle’s path.
Thomas’ parents are obviously distraught over the death of their son, and don’t think that he deserved to be shot.
“He was a loveable guy, he would do anything for anybody,” she said. “He loved cars, he loved his family. He just had a baby. She’s not even five months old!”
“They could have shot the tires out; could have shot the radiator. Where’s he gonna go?” asked Huey Thomas, Nicholas’ father. “I mean, he’s gonna get out and run. I just think it was totally unnecessary.”
While I empathize with the pain they must be experiencing upon losing a child, I’m appalled that Felicia and Huey Thomas would place the blame on the police for their son’s death.
There is the death of a criminal at the hands of law enforcement officers and average citizens on an almost daily basis in the United States, and in almost each and every one of these instances, the death of the criminal is most directly related to the actions that the criminal took that put the lives of law-abiding citizens or peace officers in immediate jeopardy of serious injury or death.
It was Nicholas Thomas’ repeated criminal actions that earned him a criminal record as a violent felon, Nicholas Thomas’ decision to violate his parole, Nicholas Thomas’ decision to steal a car instead of facing the consequences for his repeated criminal behavior, and Nicholas Thomas’ decision to attempt to use a vehicle as a deadly weapon against one or more sworn officers of the law… again.
Nicholas Thomas is responsible for his own death just as certainly as if he put a loaded gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
As for Huey Thomas’ complaints that officers should have shot the tires or the radiator, these are simply words I would attribute to a combination of pain and ignorance. Shooting at the tires or radiator might cause the car to eventually stop, but would not have addressed the immediate issue of Nicholas Thomas attempting to run down one or more police officers at that very moment. Officers had to take out the person driving the vehicle to end the immediate threat, and they did.
This was Nicholas Thomas’ third attack on law enforcement officers.
He has no one to blame for his death but himself.