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Family of slain Raleigh man says high-profile civil rights lawyer to represent them

Posted August 9, 2016
Updated August 11, 2016

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— 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.


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  • Freda Kerr Aug 11, 3:39 p.m.
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    He was a stupid 16 year old when assaulted his school principal. He got probation, went on to graduate, hasn't been in any more trouble, was working and moving on to better things.

    I suppose you also don't believe that people can grow and mature....sad.....just as sad as the attempts to blame the victim and to justify the shooter.....

  • Freda Kerr Aug 11, 3:31 p.m.
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    New Holland (if that is your real name) a 20 year old is an adult and can stay out as long as he wants. He may have had the next day off ( he did have a job); he may not attend church (I don't and yet I am a hard working, tax paying, kind and compassionate person) . Your assertions are not germaine to this incident.

    Good points about the homeowner.

  • Roy Delbert Aug 10, 11:56 a.m.
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    My deepest sympathy goes out too all involved this is the worst possible outcome. Let be be the first to thank WRAL for keeping the pot stinking. When a Black person kill a white person for any reason say robbery, WRAL may have a one segment for one day. But you look at any cases invoking a white being the plaintiff, they keep it on the front page for weeks. This is how liberal media with help from others keep race tensions high across the county. If people would respect the laws and rules of this nation everyone would benefit.

  • Clayton Mack Aug 10, 9:53 a.m.
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    The RPD got it right. You can't shoot 'warning shots'. And even if they were, why wouldn't you shoot in the air? The ballistics team probably determined that the buckshot was fired directly at the crowd and thus first-degree murder.

    Don't drop the soap.

  • Bill Huntington Aug 10, 9:21 a.m.
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    Well said!

  • Bill Huntington Aug 10, 9:20 a.m.
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    Don't be ignorant. If you think for one second that this man didn't take these actions based on the race of the victim then you have no idea what racism and prejudice is. Fiegning ignorance is not an excuse nor does it do much for your point. It just makes your point moot and shows you don't understand what the term racism or prejudice means.

  • New Holland Aug 10, 9:17 a.m.
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    Why was this 20yo out and not home at 1am? I guess he wasn't getting up Sunday to go to church or work.
    if he was on the mans property, why? if he was on the public street then that's another issue for the shooter. Why not stand outside the garage, not with a gun, but a phone in your hand and show the kids your calling 911 or take a picture of the car and plate. if you have a gun, please use it as a last resort.

  • Bill Huntington Aug 10, 9:14 a.m.
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    What did the victim vandalize????

  • Amy Whaley Aug 10, 9:07 a.m.
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    Why do you assume prejudice was involved? Prejudice against the color of one's skin or against vandals roaming the neighborhood? If you are assuming it is prejudice or "outright racism" because the shooter is white and the victim is black then you sir are being racist.

  • Bill Huntington Aug 10, 8:47 a.m.
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    Because for one thing, prejudice was involved, at the very least...worst case, it was outright racism.
    Second thing, not sure if you are aware, but southern states, specifically North Carolina have a dirty history with bias when it comes to these types of crimes....there's no wonder minorities are paranoid of the system. It's the reason that civil rights attorneys, groups and laws exist.