SMYRNA, Ga. -- The man shot and killed by police as he drove a Maserati toward them at a shopping plaza in Vinings has a history of eluding police officers.
According to court records, 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas was convicted in 2014 of aggravated assault on a peace officer and attempting to elude capture. On Mar. 21, 2013, a Kennesaw State University police officer attempted to pull over Thomas for speeding; Thomas accelerated and drove at the officer.
He was also convicted of driving with a suspended license, no proof of insurance, and using a license plate that didn't match his car.
The fatal shooting happened a Goodyear Service Center near the intersection of Cumberland Parkway and Paces Ferry Road at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Thomas's parents said they are certain that police had no justification for shooting and killing their son. Police say their initial investigation indicates officers feared for their lives as they said the car was aimed straight at them.
"And they shot him down, dead," said Felicia Thomas, the man's mother.
Police said that when they showed up at the Goodyear Service Center on Cumberland Parkway, where he worked, Thomas jumped into a customer's Maserati and started to drive off and would not surrender.
"The cop yelled, and he said, 'get out the car, get out the car now,' and he just drove off. Then, he put it in reverse, there was nothing the cop could do from there," said witness Ryan Rose. So, I guess he— the cop shot at the car."
"The suspect drove his car toward officers, putting officers in fear for their lives, at which time the officers fired into the vehicle, shooting the suspect," said Smyrna Police Sgt. Ed Cason.
Cason said there were at least three Smyrna officers there trying to arrest Thomas, plus at least three Cobb County Police officers. Cason did not say how many officers shot at the car, but Cobb Police say none of their officers fired any rounds. Cason also would not say if they found a gun with Thomas.
Thomas' mother, Felicia, said her son had just seen an attorney to try to clear up his legal troubles.
"He was a loveable guy, he would do anything for anybody," she said. "He loved cars, he loved his family. He just had a baby. She's not even five months old!"
"They could have shot the tires out; could have shot the radiator. Where's he gonna go?" asked Huey Thomas, Nicholas' father. "I mean, he's gonna get out and run. I just think it was totally unnecessary."
Smyrna Police are continuing their investigation of the incident.