FILE - In this May 7, 2019 file photo Rep. Erica Thomas, D-Austell, speaks during a news conference in Atlanta. Thomas says she was verbally attacked in a supermarket by a white man who told her, "Go back where you came from." Rep. Erica Thomas of Austell tearfully described the confrontation in a Facebook video Friday, July 19, 2019. She acknowledged being in an express line with too many items but said she got in the line because she is nine months pregnant and cannot stand for long periods. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

No charges in Georgia lawmaker grocery store dispute

July 23, 2019 - 7:51 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — No charges will be filed in the dispute between a black Georgia lawmaker and a white man she accused of verbally assaulting her for having too many items in an express checkout line at a grocery store, police said Tuesday.

In a widely shared Facebook video, a tearful state Rep. Erica Thomas accused a man later identified as Eric Sparkes of a racist attack. Thomas, a Democrat from Austell, said she was with her 9-year-old daughter at the time. She is also nine months pregnant.

"And this white man comes up to me and says, 'You lazy son of a bitch,'" Thomas said, sobbing as she described the confrontation. "He says, 'You lazy son of a bitch; you need to go back where you came from.'"

The alleged confrontation came days after President Donald Trump tweeted that four Democratic congresswomen of color, including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, should go back to the "broken and crime infested" countries they came from.

But Thomas' version of events was disputed by Sparkes a day later when he unexpectedly showed up during an interview between Thomas and television news crews outside the store.

In an interview with WSB-TV, Sparkes admitted to cursing at Thomas, but denied using racist language or telling her to "go back."

"She's doing it for political purposes. Period," Sparkes said, adding that he is a Democrat and of Cuban descent.

Thomas' attorney Gerald Griggs said Tuesday that he planned to bring evidence directly to the county's magistrate court if police won't file charges.

Griggs said Thomas is "resolute that she wants to stand as the voice of victims to not be afraid to come forward when incidents like this happen."

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