Day 2 of protests in Thomasville ends in prayer

Day 2 of protests in Thomasville ends in prayer - prayer
Posted at 3:51 AM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 02:49:09-04

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - The second day of protests and a night of prayer has come to an end in Thomasville after the GBI said a deputy involved shooting left one man dead on Tuesday. 


The streets are quiet Wednesday night.  

On Wednesday, Herbert Gilbert's neighbors and concerned Thomasville citizens marched downtown, saying they wanted answers, as the investigation into the fatal shooting continued.  

Wednesday night, many joined together for a prayer vigil to honor all grieving after the event. 

Those who live on Magnolia Street never expected they'd be singing in the middle of it.

"Everybody is trying to come together. A lot of times in the community we feel fractured. Sentiments were that we hate for it to take something like this to bring people together," said a neighbor.  

But one look at the crowd and it's clear it has. 

The second day of protests ended with a prayer vigil Wednesday night after Thomas County Sheriff's deputy Josh Smith shot and killed Herbert Gilbert, 37, while serving a search warrant on Tuesday.  

A number of different faith and community leaders spoke to a large crowd, right near the spot Gilbert was shot the day before.

After hugging his family, the group prayed for them, children, law enforcement, and unity. 

The Thomasville Police Chief Troy Rich announced at a prayer vigil on Wednesday that the driver of a golf cart who drove toward protesters, Johnathan Cleveland, had been arrested.

Chief Rich told attendants at the prayer vigil that Jonathan Cleveland was arrested and charged with reckless conduct.

Captain Maurice Holmes with the police department said that he saw Cleveland try to run over protesters with a golf cart on Broad Street in downtown Thomasville Wednesday afternoon during a march. 

According to the Thomas County Jail, Cleveland was booked around 6 p.m. Wednesday night, but bonded out on a $550 bond around 6:30 p.m.

Chief Rich said he's thankful that protests were for the most part peaceful today adding that the answers from the GBI and the process to get them should be trusted. 

Others stressed peaceful protest too, but noted that change is needed.

And as GBI investigators look into the shooting, those who live on Magnolia Street said they'll continue to make their voices heard. 

"We never want to forget what happens when we don't hold our officials accountable, we don't hold ourselves accountable," said Quinn Choice, a pastor. "As one friend of mine would say we all have a nickel in this time."

A sentiment those on Magnolia Street reminded themselves of while hand in hand. 

Speakers said a march is organized for next Monday at 5 p.m. A Florida group with knowledge on march organizing will assist community leaders. They will meet on Magnolia Street.


On Wednesday, members of the community gathered together in protest at the building houses the Thomasville Police Department and Thomas County Sheriff's Office.

For the most part, protests have been peaceful, officers were seen in large numbers downtown to keep everyone safe.  

Demonstrators have been chanting 'No justice, no peace' repeatedly.

Leaders in the City of Thomasville released statements:

“On behalf of the Thomasville City Council and the entire City family, we want to begin by expressing our sincere condolences to the family of the deceased. This was a tragic event for our community. We are sensitive to the community’s concerns and we understand that the community wants answers as to what happened. There is an active investigation currently underway by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. We ask that the community allow the investigation to run its course.” - Thomasville Mayor Greg Hobbs.

"We also understand that the community wants to express its frustration. We ask that you do so peacefully and respectfully. The City and the Thomasville Police Department will provide a safe environment for those who wish to do so." - Thomasville Police Chief Troy Rich.

After protesting outside of the sheriff's office and police department, people marched through downtown Thomasville.

Tuesday night there was one break in the peace when someone threw a cinder block through a patrol car window. 

Michael Dismuke was arrested on scene. He's been charged with interference with government. 

Protestors said they want to try to keep the peace. They said they just want justice. 

They also said what happened Tuesday was uncalled for. They said they believe the incidents did not have to play out the way they did.

Many of them are shocked to see that this happened right in their backyard. 

"I would never have thought in my lifetime that somebody would get shot in Thomasville. I thought we were better than this here. I really thought my community in a whole as police officers, was better than this," said William Gibson.

Protestors said they just want answers. They said they want to know what is protocol in these situations, they want the deputy to be punished. 

"I'm at odds with all of it. I'm not going to make a judgment, but all I can say is it was wrong," said Michelle Clarke.


Officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have identified the deputy involved in Tuesday afternoon's fatal shooting.

Agents confirmed that the deputy involved was Josh Smith.

He started with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office in June 2012.

The investigation is ongoing, and agents are reviewing footage and interviewing witnesses.

Police confirmed Gilbert as the man who was shot.

According to the GBI, the shooting occurred when Thomas County Drug agents tried to execute a search warrant in the area of Magnolia and Fern Streets.


"At 4:19 p.m. is when the officers called out for help, shots fired, need an ambulance," said Thomas County Sheriff's Office Captain Steve Jones.

At that time, Jones said he called the GBI for backup.

"Regardless, somebody was hurt and we all got here as quickly as we could and did everything we could," said Jones.

The GBI said the subject's vehicle and police vehicles were involved before the shooting happened. 

Immediately after the shooting, there were at least a dozen police cars at the scene and officials had the streets blocked off in the area.

Witnesses said it started as a car chase when a black police SUV chased a silver SUV through the neighborhood.

Markeshia Glenn, Gilbert's girlfriend said police came to her house looking for him just minutes before the chase.

The GBI confirmed drug agents were executing a search warrant at the time.

"Three cops came in with their guns," said Glenn.

Glenn said shortly after, she heard screaming and then the gunshots. 

"When I hear the boom boom boom that's when I fell to the ground and said 'man they are going to kill my baby,'" said Glenn.

Witnesses said it was a busy time in the neighborhood. They said dozens of kids had just gotten off the bus and were playing outside. 

"And then when they shot him, my neighbors' children were on the porch, so really they didn't care," said Glenn.

We spoke with Gilbert's 18-year-old sister,  Miracle McCoy,  who said she got off the school bus to see the terrifying scene play out right in front of her eyes.

"I thought I was going to get off the bus and go in the house and speak to everyone like I usually do and play with my brother but when I got off that's when all of this happened. It's like they were waiting for me to get out of school for all of it to happen," said McCoy.

GBI Agent Marko Jones said Wednesday that it is standard for them to get called in to help with a deputy involved shooting.

Once they are called in, they completely take over the investigation. 

"It's more in depth we have to make sure we talk to everyone that knows something about it. We don't want to rush the investigation nor do we want to prolong it. So it's a balance we have to work with," said Jones.

Once the investigation into the use of force is completed, it will be turned over to the District Attorney's Office for their review.

GBI agents said an autopsy is being scheduled.

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