A man from North Carolina has been found guilty of fatally shooting an unarmed Black man.
On August 7, 2016, 40-year-old Chad Copley called a 911 dispatcher and said he was “locked and loaded” on his way to “secure” his community after seeing 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas leaving a party in the neighborhood.
He was heard referring to Thomas and his friends as “hoodlums” and said “I’m going to kill ‘em” before the dispatcher came on the line. Subsequently he murdered Thomas and the jury found that his life wasn’t in danger.
Copley, who claimed to be a neighborhood watchdog and was given the nickname “George Zimmerman 2.0” for how similar his crime was to the Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, on Friday (February 23), was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
According to The News and Observer, the jury found Copley guilty of premeditated murder and believe he ambushed Thomas, launching a “surprise” attack on him. During the trial, Copley claimed he heard Thomas and his group of friends revving their engines on his street. After cross-examination however, Copley admitted no one was revving an engine in the neighborhood or that he was even a watchdog for his street.
“He wasn’t a hoodlum, he wasn’t a bad kid, he was a good kid,” Helen Simone Butler-Thomas, Kouren’s mother, said after the verdict was reached. “This is all we have of him left. Maybe he can rest now, knowing his name was cleared and he didn’t deserve to die on a curb.”
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