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Cobb County Residents Angry Over Police Policies, Shooting

Residents spoke out at a Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting about a recent officer-involved shooting.
Residents spoke out at a Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting about a recent officer-involved shooting.
Credit Jason Getz / Associated Press

Residents sounded off at a Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting about a recent officer-involved shooting.

Several Cobb County residents spoke out about police policies they say target people of color during last night’s board of commissioner’s meeting. They included comments from the parents of a man fatally shot by police in March.

Huey Thomas was the first to speak out in a wave of criticism leveled at official handling of his 25-year-old son’s death. 

“I’m tired of my wife crying every night, with no information and people being very disrespectful,” said Thomas.

His son Nicholas was shot and killed by police in March. Smyrna and Cobb County police had showed up at his job to deliver an arrest warrant. Thomas called for the commissioners help in getting a conviction for the Smyrna officer who shot his son.

Another resident, Rich Pellegrino, connected Thomas’ shooting to local police practices criminalizing young people in Cobb County. He told the commissioners Cobb County police had recently followed his African-American daughter home because of a broken taillight.

“One thing led to another and my daughter ended up wrestled to the ground by large men with her face in the dirt,” said Pellegrino. 

He said he learned his daughter had been stopped three times in as many months before the incident. It was no wonder, Pellegrino said, that, like his daughter, Nicholas Thomas had tried to run from police the day he was killed.

As his time to comment expired, commissioners asked him to stop and the meeting heated up. 

“Don’t cut me off!” said Pellegrino, adding, “You have time spend on monopoly games with the braves, you have time to spend with nonsense, but you don’t have time for this?” 

Supporters of the Thomas family left the board meeting before Commissioner Lisa Cupid responded at the end of the meeting. She praised the safety department’s efforts, but talked about some of her own negative experiences with police as a woman of color. 

“We endure these slights every day and we don’t talk about it and there isn’t a forum for us to do it without being viewed as if we’re being antagonistic,” said Cupid. 

She said small offenses pile up long before incidents like the officer involved shootings death of Nicholas Thomas become emotional flashpoints.

Cupid said she didn’t have a solution to police and community relations in Cobb, but called for a discussion with her fellow commissioners and Cobb Public safety director Sam Heaton. 

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