Murder Charges Dropped Against Ex-Ga. Officer

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. --

A former DeKalb County police officer accused of murder after shooting and killing a suspect is no longer facing any charges.

On Friday, prosecutors dropped all charges against Torrey Thompson, saying there was not enough evidence to get a conviction.

"The physical evidence would not have been enough because at the end of the day, you really have to prove intent when you're talking murder," said DeKalb District Attorney Robert James.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled statements Thompson made to his superior officers following the shooting were not voluntary, and therefore could not be used against him.

Thompson admitted firing his weapon a total of 10 times as he and other officers tried to arrest shooting suspect, Lorenzo Matthews, in a Stone Mountain apartment complex back in 2006.

Investigators cleared another officer who fired four shots, but said Thompson shot at the suspect as he was running away.

In 2008, a grand jury reviewing a series of officer involved shootings indicted Thompson for murder.

"The toll that it's taken on my family, I think that was the hardest part, having to see them go through this," Thompson told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.

Thompson and another officer said Matthews refused when they ordered him to stop, and turned several times toward them as he was running away.

They also said they saw an object in his hand.

"You follow your training and you do the right thing and you hope to make it home at night," said Thompson.

He thanked all of his fellow officers who supported him since the charges were filed.

The district attorney said he did not take the decision to drop the charges lightly.

"I don't always have the luxury of saying we're going to pursue what’s right and fight what's wrong if the law does not allow me to do so and in this case the law just does not allow me to pursue this," said James.

Thompson has always maintained his innocence, saying he feared for his life when he opened fire.

The case was not heard by a grand jury until two years after the shooting, amid community outrage over a number of officer involved shootings.

"The circumstances that existed in the aftermath of 2006 created sort of a perfect storm, and unfortunately, Torrey got caught up in that storm. I think the people who had to make these decisions did what they thought they had to do," said Bill Atkins, Thompson's defense attorney.

Thompson says he's considering attending law school but he hasn't ruled out returning to law enforcement.

Right now, he's just glad to have his life back.

"It's hard to express in words how relieved I am. I believe it did take a certain level of decency and courage for the current district attorney's office to make that decision. And I'm glad to be able to pick up the pieces so to speak and move on with my life," said Thompson.

Lorenzo Matthews' mother, Chandra Harden, told Fleischer his family is very disappointed with the district attorney's decision and still grieving nearly five years after the shooting.

A civil case is still pending.

Copyright 2011 by . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Loading