Victim's lawyer: White Raleigh shooter "Zimmerman 2.0"

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The mother of the 20-year-old man who was fatally shot in a Raleigh neighborhood earlier this week, says "race did play a part" in the incident.

"Race did play a part and it has to end," Simone Thomas told ABC's Good Morning America during an interview. "Somebody has to get this to end."

Her comments come after her son, Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, was shot outside a home in the 3500 block of Singleleaf Lane, early Sunday morning. He was later pronounced dead at WakeMed.

Authorities have said 39-year-old Chad Cameron Copley, fired a shotgun from inside his garage and hit Thomas as he was leaving a party two doors down.

During a news conference Thursday morning, Thomas' family's attorney Justin Bamberg - who is a well-known civil rights lawyer from South Carolina and most recently represented the family of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge - repeatedly referred to Copley as "Zimmerman 2.0."

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The family of a 20-year-old man who was fatally shot in Raleigh holds news conference Thursday morning

George Zimmerman is known for the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

Bamberg pointed out what he called similarities between the men's statements surrounding the incidents.

"You have Mr. Copley aka Mr. George Zimmerman 2.0 who does the same thing," he said. "I'm neighborhood watch. There are hoodlums as he sees them outside. I'm going to investigate it myself and I'm gonna play police."

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The lawyer representing the family of the 20-year-old who was fatally shot in a Raleigh neighborhood says the shooter is George Zimmerman 2.0

"He took the life of an innocent man," he said. "He did not have a firearm, and as far I know there is no evidence that anyone out there had any firearms."

Bamberg said homeowners have a right to protect their home, but said Thomas' death was unjustified and his family wants justice.

"Now, there's been a lot of talk about race, and when these things happen, often times the talk turns to race, and I want to make it very clear, very clear to each and every person watching this that we are not saying that Mr. Copley, Mr. George Zimmerman 2.0, was a racist. We're not saying that," Bamberg said. "What we're saying is - listen to the 911 audio tape. We didn't make this about race, Mr. Copley did."

Thomas' mother, brother, girlfriend, aunt, and best friend tearfully joined their attorney during the news conference.

"What can I say ... he was a good boy ... he didn't bother nobody," Simone Thomas said. "He was a good kid, and I don't have him anymore ... there's nothing I can do. I gotta bury my child."

"I just want all of this to end - all the killing black kids, white kids, adults. I'm just tired. Everybody should be tired every day," she sobbed. "I have three sons - I still have three sons, one is gone - I still have two left to worry about. "When is it going to end?"

"I just want justice for all the parents, all the kids," Thomas added.

Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas


"This hurts so bad," Kouren Thomas' older brother Kristian Williams said. "I wish that everybody would not have to go through what we have to go through. I want this to be the last time."

Copley has been charged with murder and is currently being held in the Wake County jail.


Copley's attorney, Raymond C. Tarlton, has issued a statement that said, "We urge restraint and that folks not rush to judgement. At this point we cannot say anything more."

ABC11 obtained a 911 call about Sunday's incident that appears to have come from the suspect.


Operator: I'm sorry you're going to do what to the neighborhood?

Caller: : I'm going to secure my neighborhood. I'm on neighborhood watch, I have neighbors with me. We have hoodlum's walking up and down the street at 1 a.m. in the morning. There is some vandalism and they have firearms. We're going to secure our neighborhood. If I were you I would send PD.

Thomas' mother told GMA that her son was just trying to get back home.

"Hoodlums stay out all night long," she said. "They weren't there a half hour. They probably were uncomfortable with the fact that everybody was out in the street because they not used to that. Hoodlums? Why because they got jeans on?"

"Unfortunately here, it does look like race did play a role in this," Bamberg said in an earlier interview. "We had numerous African-American kids outside at a party, hanging out. The terminology that the shooter used when he called 911 to describe everybody, his mannerisms, his tone. I think race did play a role in it. You can't help but question if the kids were of a different race would this have still happened?"

Police were called to a home on the 3500 block of Singleleaf Lane around 1 a.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2016.

Some residents in the neighborhood where the shooting happened told ABC11 Wednesday that they believe the shooting was a form of discrimination.

Ana Rodriguez, who lives off Singleleaf Lane, said some of her neighbors are not welcoming to people of certain ethnicities.

For the past two years, she says, neighbors have been quick to scrutinize, stereotype and complain to their homeowner's association.

"One of the reasons I'm leaving out is because this neighborhood is very prejudice," Rodriguez said. "Recently, I was in the yard when a lady said 'oh the kids are running around. Are those your kids?' I said 'no, I don't have any kids.' And she said 'oh (I thought) because of your skin complexion.' I just stood quiet and left."


But other neighbors are not so quick to pull the race card -- saying the neighborhood is diverse-and the shooting doesn't have anything to do with skin color; rather, the suspect just made a bad decision.

"It's stupid for someone to shoot out of a door like that. It doesn't make any sense," said Cary Poe.

"I just think this situation deteriorated in the wrong way," said John MacDonald.


Police have not released details on whether the victim was armed at the time of the shooting, but Bamberg said Thursday he was not.

"You're probably familiar with the Castle Doctrine in North Carolina, we talked to some attorneys yesterday who don't believe that this case would fall within that, that you have to have proof that someone is in eminent danger, that you have to have proof that somebody's trying to get in your home and it doesn't appear that those things exist," Bamberg said. "At this time in appears to me that Castle Doctrine is not even something that should be brought up. Mr. Copley was in the confines of his own house, his garage door, my understanding that was down, and he shot through the window! Castle Doctrine has its own issues, and we've seen it, we saw it in Florida with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, we've seen it all across the country."

A GoFundMe page has also been set up by Thomas' family to pay for funeral expenses.


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We understand the suspect in this case is the son-in-law of reporter Greg Barnes. This was a shock to him and all of us at ABC11. We'll continue to give updates as we get them
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