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News
Police release video in grocery store dust-up
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Police release video in grocery store dust-up

Newly released video shows the argument that took place inside a Cobb Publix, involving state Rep. Erica Thomas and a Eric Sparkes, man she accused of uttering racist comments.

Police release video in grocery store dust-up

The Cobb County Police Department releases the surveillance video from the Publix grocery store, where a state lawmaker and another shopper get into a heated argument, as well as the body cam video from the officer who responded.

The store’s video has no sound but shows Eric Sparkes approach Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell) as she and her 9-year-old daughter were checking out in the express lane. He points to the sign that says “10 items or less”.

Thomas is then seen stepping towards Sparkes, who backs away, with her finger pointed. A store employee then steps between the two. The responding officer interviews that employee the following day.

“When I got closer, I heard him call her ignorant. And then she said, ‘If you’re not happy you can leave the store’. And he called her ignorant again, she said, ‘You can go back to where you came from’ and was pointing him out the door,” the employee tells the officer.

The woman says she did not hear either call the other any vulgar names, although Sparkes later admits to the officer that he called her a “lazy b—tch”.

Sparkes tells the officer he had just checked out with his few items in another lane at the store but was annoyed that Thomas had more than 10 items in the express checkout. He mentions his annoyance to the same employee interviewed by the officer before going back into the store to confront Thomas.

The Democratic lawmaker, who is nine months pregnant, says she explained to Sparkes that she can’t be on her feet long. After leaving the store, she posts a tearful video saying Sparkes called her a "son of a b--tch" and told her to “go back where she came from”.

While Thomas and her attorney, Gerald Griggs, have encouraged charges of simple assault and child cruelty in the third degree be filed against Sparkes, the Cobb Police Department has declined to do so saying she can pursue the charges in Magistrate Court.

Sparkes, who sparred with Thomas the following day in the parking lot of the store in front of television cameras, blames the media for running with the story.

In the same body cam video, he tells the officer it’s not the first time he’s confronted someone over such behavior.

“It won’t be the last—it’s not my nature. I hate people getting away with stupid stuff,” he says.

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