A 40-year-old North Carolina, who's earned the unfavorable nickname of "George Zimmerman 2.0," was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison Friday (Feb. 23) for fatally shooting an unarmed 20 year old black man.
On Aug. 7, 2016, Chad Copley called 911 dispatchers and said he was "locked and loaded" and was on his way to "secure" his community when he heard Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas who left a party in Copley's neighborhood. Copley called 20-year-old Thomas and his friends "hoodlums" and can also be heard saying "I'm going to kill 'em" before the dispatcher came on the line.
Copley earned the George Zimmerman comparison from Thomas' family lawyer. In 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in one of the nation's most controversial profiling cases.
According to The News and The Observer, a jury found Copley guilty of premeditated murder and deduced he ambushed Thomas and launched a sniper-style attack on him.
Copley told the dispatcher he's a neighborhood watchmen and that Thomas' friends had firearms and "the devil in 'em." Copley also testified he heard the group revving their engines on his street. On cross-examination however, Copley admitted he didn't hear anyone rev an engine, or that he was the community neighborhood gatekeeper.
After the verdict was reached, Thomas' mother carrying a stuffed teddy bear with an urn carrying her son's ashes, spoke on the closure she's now receiving two years after her son's murder.
“He wasn’t a hoodlum, he wasn’t a bad kid, he was a good kid,”Helen Simone Butler-Thomas said. "This is all we have of him left. Maybe he can rest now, knowing his name was cleared and he didn’t deserve to die on a curb.”