It’s the Trayvon Martin case all over again.
A white man calls 911 to report black “hoodlums” walking in his neighborhood. Instead of waiting for the police to arrive, he takes matters into his own hands and serves his community by shooting out the window and killing the “thug” that threatened the safety of his home.
Sounds like George Zimmerman, right? But, it isn’t him. No, this particular case involves a 39-year-old North Carolina man, Chad Copley, who like Zimmerman, killed Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas in cold blood, it appears, just for being African-American.
The incident began after midnight on Sunday when Raleigh police department received a call from Copley stating there were a “bunch of hoodlums out here racing.”
“I am locked and loaded,” he told the dispatcher. “I'm going outside to secure my neighborhood. You need to send PD as quickly as possible.”
When the dispatcher voiced shocked disbelief, Copley reiterated he was “going to secure” his neighborhood.
“I'm on the neighborhood watch. I'm going to have the neighbors with me,” he said. “There's hoodlums out here racing up and down the street. It's 1 o'clock in the morning. There's some devil in them. They have firearms, and we're going to secure our neighborhood. If I were you, I'd send PD as quickly as possible.”
Soon after, Copley hung up on the dispatcher. Later, 911 received multiple calls both from Copley’s house and from his neighbors that someone had been shot. That someone was a 20-year-old Thomas who was pronounced dead at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh.
If You Think The Trayvon Martin Case Was Bad, Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas Might Have Him Beat. My Heart Is Aching.— Backdoor Savage (@TheImperialEm_) August 9, 2016
If you're annoyed by a party on your street you mind your own biz or call the police. You don't go shoot your neighbors. #KourenRodneyThomas— loafingcactus (@loafingcactus) August 9, 2016
Thomas, affectionately nicknamed as Koury, was not a “hoodlum” though, as Copley’s call seemed to suggest, but was simply visiting a party a few houses down. According to his family and friends, he was witty, friendly and protective man who worked at Waffle House and McDonald’s, had just gotten his very first apartment, and was going to help his girlfriend settle into her college dorm. Copley, on the other hand, is the one far from being a paragon of virtue. Records show police arriving at Copley’s home four times within the last year: three times on a single day for fraud and domestic incidence and another time for a missing juvenile
Neighbors have also belied Copley’s claim that he was a member of the neighborhood watch — or that anyone in the street was carrying guns or acting like “hoodlums.”
“The association is mainly concerned with covenant enforcement and social functions, like mowing the front entrance and fixing things,” Mike Ellis, a spokesman for the Neuse Crossing Homeowners Association, the area in which Copley lived, told the Raleigh News & Observer. “We do not give residents police powers at all.”
Jalen Lewis, the person who was hosting the party Thomas was invited to, said although he didn’t know the man personally, he didn’t see anyone with a gun or causing any disturbance in the neighborhood.
Lewis also seemed skeptical of Copley’s claim that his house was in danger.
"The man's body was right in front of the mailbox," Lewis said, pointing toward Copley's mailbox. "I don't know how he was a threat from the garage."
Although the cops quickly arrested Copley and charged him with murder, let’s hope his case doesn’t play out like Zimmerman’s who was eventually set free and now lives to torment the Martin’s family at every opportunity.
At his first court appearance on Monday, Copley appeared unruffled even while wearing shackles. He even winked at his family who were sitting on the second row and seemed completely unrepentant about killing a human being. That says a lot about the broken legal system of America that has enabled criminals to escape justice time and again.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Alcorn