Family of slain Raleigh man says high-profile civil rights lawyer to represent them
Posted August 9
Updated August 11
Raleigh, N.C. — The family of a man who was shot to death early Sunday by a Raleigh homeowner says an attorney who has represented the families of black men who were killed by white police officers will represent them as well.
Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, 20, was killed outside 3536 Single Leaf Lane. Homeowner Chad Cameron Copley, 39, has been charged with murder in the case.
Copley called 911 shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday to complain about armed "hoodlums" racing and vandalizing his neighborhood and telling police he was ready to take action.
"I'm locked and loaded, and I'm going to secure the neighborhood," he told a dispatcher. "I'm on neighborhood watch, and I'm going to have my neighbors with me."
Seven minutes later, someone called 911 to report a shooting in the neighborhood and that the victim had been shot from inside a home.
Investigators said Copley fired a shotgun from inside his garage, striking Thomas, who was outside.
Copley's wife then called 911 to report the shooting, and he took the phone from her and said he had shot in self-defense.
"We have a lot of people outside our house yelling and shouting profanities. I yelled at them to please leave the premises," he explained, adding that he saw someone display a weapon.
Copley said he only fired a warning shot, "as required by law," but he wasn't sure if anyone had been hit.
"They do have firearms, and I'm trying to protect myself and my family," he said.
Police said they are still investigating to determine what happened.
Copley's attorney, Raymond Tarlton, urged people "not rush to judgment" over the murder charge.
"We have seen too many wrongful convictions for anyone or any organization to jump to conclusions on the basis of someone being charged," Tarlton said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Thomas' family has hired attorney Justin Bamberg, a South Carolina lawmaker who also represents the children of Alton Sterling, who was killed last month by police in Baton Rouge, La., and previously represented the family of Walter Scott, who was killed by a North Charleston, S.C., police officer last year.
As in both of those cases, the victim in the Raleigh case was black and the shooter is white.
Thomas' brother, Kristian Williams, said the family was still in shock over the shooting and are trying to come to terms with his brother's death.