Chad Copley, a 40-year-old white man from North Carolina, took the stand on Tuesday to testify at his murder trial. He’s accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old Kouren Thomas, an unarmed black man, in 2016.
Copley testified that he thought he was defending his family when he fired at a group of men standing near his home’s garage, where Copley’s son lived, according to CBS News.
Before opening fire, Copley called 911 to report a group of "hoodlums."
"We've got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing," Copley said of the crowd, some of which were revving their car engines. "I am locked and loaded and going outside to secure the neighborhood."
While being questioned on the stand by prosecutor Patrick Latour, Copley admitted to lying to police nearly 12 times. The lies include a false account that Copley fired a warning shot before fatally killing Thomas. He also admitted in court this week that he lied to the 911 dispatcher about racing cars and vandalism, all of which never happened.
"The reason I lied to the police was because I was scared. I was being a coward," Copley said, according to CBS.
Justin Bamberg, a lawyer for Thomas' family, called Copley "George Zimmerman 2.0." in 2016.
Copley said that he also referred to his own son as a “hoodlum,” a word he claims means someone who doesn’t care if their actions hurt others. According to WRAL, Copley’s 18-year-old son ran away just a few days earlier. The day of the shooting, Copley testified that he had a fight with his wife and ended up spending most of the day sulking and drinking in his "man cave."
He cried on the stand as he apologized for the shooting.
"I should have listened to my wife," he said. "She told me not to go out there, not to make a big deal of it."
[Photo: Wake County Sheriff's Office]