May 8, 2019

Action Alert:
Tell DA to Appeal Vacancy of Conviction of Racist Shooter

Just after 1:00 a.m. on a weekend night on August 7, 2016, a white home owner in North Carolina, Chad Copley, opened his second-story bedroom window to yell at a group of African-American youth attending a party in the neighborhood. Furious, Copley then called 911. The dispatcher could hear Copley saying “I’m going to kill ’em” as he came on the line. Copley then told dispatch, “We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing. I am locked and loaded. I’m going outside to secure my neighborhood … There’s black males outside my freaking house with firearms. Please send PD.”

Chad Copley and Kouren-Rodney Thomas

During the call, Copley descended to his dark garage, pointed a loaded shotgun out a window, and opened fire. One of the party-goers, 22-year-old Kouren Rodney-Thomas, was shot and killed. The young victim was unarmed and no firearms were found in the vicinity.

Copley was convicted of first-degree murder in February 2018 and sentenced to life without parole. But remarkably, a 2-1 decision by a panel of appellate court judges overturned the conviction on May 7, 2019. Because one of the judges dissented, however, the state can appeal the ruling.

Please contact Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman and give her the following message, personalized to your liking:

I was absolutely outraged to learn that the 1st-degree murder conviction against Chad Copley was overturned by two judges (on a three-judge panel) because prosecutors raised the issue of race in their closing statement. This is absurd given that Copley made it clear his shooting of Kouren Rodney-Thomas was racially-motivated in the 911 call (e.g., “We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing” … “There’s black males outside my freaking house with firearms”). I want to see your office respond to this travesty of justice immediately. Appeal this terrible panel ruling and ask that Copley’s conviction be reinstated. En banc consideration of this split-decision by just three judges is desperately needed. I will be watching developments in this case very closely moving forward. Thank you.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman
Phone: (919) 792-5000

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