Black Man Killed by ‘Neighborhood Watchman’
A Raleigh, North Carolina Black man is dead after being killed by a white homeowner who told police that he was “locked and loaded” and was going outside to confront a group of “hoodlums.”
The Washington Post reports that Chad Copley, 39, placed the 911 call shortly before fatally wounding 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas Sunday.
“We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing,” Copley told the dispatcher. “I’m going outside to secure my neighborhood.”
Police say Copley then told the 911 dispatcher that he was “on neighborhood watch” and that he was “going to have the neighborhood meet these hoodlums out here racing up and down the street.”
“It’s 1 in the morning,” he continued. “There’s some devil in them. They have firearms and we’re going to secure our neighborhood. If I was you, I would send PD out here as quickly as possible.”
A few minutes later, Copley was on the phone with dispatchers again, this time pausing to explain the aftermath of his actions.
“I yelled at them, ‘Please leave the premises,'” he said. “They were showing firearms, so I fired a warning shot and uh, we got somebody that got hit. I fired my warning shot like I’m supposed to by law. They do have firearms, and I’m trying to protect myself and my family.”
The dispatcher then pressed for more information on the unfolding incident, asking Copley, “Who’s been shot, how badly are they injured and where, exactly is the victim?”
To which Copley responds, “Please just send a car. There’s friggin‘ Black males outside my friggin‘ house with firearms. Please, send PD. Thank you.”
Then he hung up.
Upon arrival, officers found Thomas dying of a gunshot wound. He passed away shortly after being transported to a nearby hospital. Details of what led up to the fatal shooting are unclear, but Raleigh police say Copley fired at Thomas from inside his garage.
Copley has been charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Family and friends of Thomas say he died for no reason. David Walker was with Thomas that night. He said the two were on Singleleaf Lane, the street where Copley lives, trying to crash a party. Roughly 50 people were in attendance, Walker said, with half of them inside the home. The other half were in the yard.
According to Walker, the two friends were standing outside, waiting for someone to give them permission to come in when a person they knew told them, “Bro, it ain’t no girls.”
“If there were no girls there, we figured we might as well go back home,” Walker said.
As they were leaving, Walker said Thomas saw what he believed to be police lights. Thomas, who had weed on him, took off running, he said.
“I’m looking at him running the whole time,” Walker said. “I yelled at him, ‘We good now, stop running.’ He turned his back to me and that’s when the shot went off. We didn’t know that it came from the house.”
Copley’s attorney, Raymond C. Tarlton released the following statement regarding the incident:
“We have seen too many wrongful convictions for anyone or any organization to jump to conclusions on the basis of someone being charged,” he said. “We have just gotten involved and are at the beginning stages of our investigation. We urge restraint and that folks not rush to judgment.”
Check back for updates.