SYLVANIA, Ga. (WSAV) – About a dozen people braved wet weather Thursday as they began a five-day march from Sylvania to Savannah to draw attention to the case of Julian Lewis, an unarmed African American man who was killed during an attempted traffic stop last year.
“I want justice for my son, I can’t sleep, I can’t rest, I can’t do anything from my child being on my mind all the time,” said Lindsay Milton, Lewis’s mother.
Lewis, who was 61, was shot and killed by Georgia State Trooper Jacob Thompson after refusing to pull over for a damaged tail light. Attorneys for the Lewis family say a “slow speed” chase ensued on a gravel road which culminated in the trooper stopping Lewis’s vehicle with his patrol car.
Thompson initially indicated concerns for his safety and told authorities that is why he shot Lewis after he got out of the patrol car.
However, after the death, GSP fired Thompson, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) later indicated Thompson apparently lied about certain details.
The GBI said physical evidence at the scene, including the condition of Lewis’s car, did not match Thompson’s story. The evidence included body camera video which, according to attorneys for the Lewis family, showed Thompson pulling his gun and firing within two seconds of exiting his patrol car.
The GBI arrested Thompson on murder charges and a judge approved the charges. But in Georgia, a grand jury must move a case forward by voting to indict a defendant. In this case, a Screven County grand jury, which convened in June, voted not to indict Thompson.
But Lewis’s son, Brook Bacon, says the family will not give up its call for justice. He vowed to walk the 63 miles from Sylvania to the federal courthouse. After he indicated his plan, about a dozen people decided to join him.
“We have seen too many times where accountability has not been made for the actions of police brutality and violence and these deaths,” said Bacon. “So we march to raise our voices and to bring awareness to this issue.”
Bacon said it’s not just about his father — the group is marching for families across Georgia and the country who “have had to deal with these same tragedies.”
The plan is to walk for five days.
“We are going all way to Savannah to the U.S. attorney’s office so that we can demand a federal intervention and investigation,” said Mawuli Davis, an attorney for the Lewis family.
Davis says they also want to press for someone to look into the grand jury proceedings in Screven County.