AKRON, OH (WOIO) - On Friday, family, friends and community members marched to demand answers about the death of Raupheal Thomas, who was shot and killed by an Akron police officer on Nov. 3, 2014.
After eight months, the Summit County Prosecutor's Office released a report about the shooting on July 8 -- what would have been Thomas' 30th birthday. The report claims the officer's actions were justified.
The investigation revealed the following:
- Officers responded to reports of suspicious activity when they encountered two men, one of whom was Thomas
- Thomas became violent with officers
- Officers repeatedly warned Thomas to comply
- Before using deadly force, the officer fired a Taser in an attempt to subdue Thomas, but it did not stop him
- During the struggle, Thomas fired his gun towards the head of an officer
- Thomas' DNA was on the trigger of his weapon
- Thomas was a convicted felon illegally possessing a weapon
- After firing at the officer, Thomas broke free and ran in the street of a residential neighborhood with a loaded gun in his possession
- Two shots were fired, striking Thomas in his right side and torso
- Thomas' gun was found on the ground next to him after he was shot
"It is clear from our investigation that the police officer, having barely escaped a gunshot to his head, reasonably feared for his life, the safety of his fellow officers, and residents of the neighborhood," said Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. "Based on all the evidence, the officer involved acted within his authority and was legally justified when he used deadly force against Mr. Thomas."
Thomas' mother, Sherry Wilkerson, says she is not satisfied with the findings or the investigation process.
"Nothing is more painful than a mother's loss of a child. But what happened to my son, Raupheal, is about more than him, or me, or my family," Wilkerson said. "It is about the entire community, whether black, white, Hispanic, male, female, police officer, or civilian. It is about all us and the community we desire and the relationship with the police we deserve."
Akron Organizing Collaborative organizer Ray Greene says many Akron citizens are skeptical about the prosecutor's findings and demand more transparency from the police department.
"The investigation took way too long," Greene said, "and the findings don't line up with eye witness testimony. In the cell phone video footage, it looks like Thomas is already in custody and in handcuffs when the officer shot him – and that's not what the prosecutor's report says at all. It isn't adding up."
The event was hosted by Wilkerson at her home in the 100 block East Emerling Street.
A training on the "Rules for Peaceful Protesting" preceded by a march to the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center. Protesters presented a letter to Akron Police Chief James Nice demanding justice, accountability and reform. Afterward, marchers released balloons and participated in a fundraiser to assist with Thomas' burial costs and support for his daughter.