On its face, the story seems to dovetail perfectly with the left’s narrative of police brutality against young black males. In this case, the black male, who died, 20-year-old Jayvis Benjamin, did not have a criminal record. A grand jury, moreover, strongly recommended that charges be brought against Officer Lynn Thomas, whose service weapon delivered the lethal round.
So why did DeKalb County, Ga., District Attorney Robert James opt to clear Thomas, who has since returned to his job? Dash cam footage from Thomas’s patrol car may suggest an answer, along with details of the high-speed chase that led up to the fatal encounter provided by Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB. Among these are the following:
- Benjamin was behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang that he “borrowed” from a cousin after she refused his request to borrow it.
- “Thomas began the chase … after witnessing Benjamin blow through the intersection … going roughly 80 to 100 miles per hour.”
- “Benjamin narrowly missed hitting several cars that were already in the intersection. The traffic light controlling his lane had been red for at least 15 seconds.”
- “By the time the officer caught up, Benjamin had already crashed into a power pole, and spun through a yard into a car parked in a driveway.”
- “The officer is heard on the video repeatedly yelling at Benjamin to remain in the car while the officer waited for backup to arrive.”
- “Benjamin can then be seen aggressively hitting the officer in a bear-hug motion before jumping through the window of the car.”
- “At that point, the officer drew his gun and began retreating across the yard.”
- “The two can be heard struggling before the officer fires one shot into Benjamin’s chest.”
- Thomas was three inches shorter, 40 pounds lighter, and 30 years older than Benjamin, who was winning the fight.
Testimony by eyewitnesses and forensic evidence further suggest the officer was on or near the ground when he fired one fatal shot into Benjamin’s chest.
“If someone’s significantly larger than you,” James told reporters, “they can get the upper hand. And if you have a weapon on you, then your life is in danger at that point.”