Police: No Charges in Confrontation Involving Rep. Erica Thomas, Man She Claims Told Her to ‘Go Back Where You Came From’

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There will be no charges filed against a Georgia lawmaker and the man she claims told her to “go back” where she came from during a heated dispute inside a Publix grocery store, police announced Tuesday.

In a press release, the Cobb County Police Department said after “thorough investigation, both parties have been advised no charges will be made.”

Erica Thomas
Georgia Rep. Erica Thomas denies walking back claims that she was cursed and verbally harassed by a white man she said told her to “go back where you came from.” (WSB-TV / video screenshot)

“Both were provided information on how to contact the Cobb County Magistrate’s Office if either wish to pursue criminal action,” it added. Thomas had sought assault and third-degree child cruelty charges in the incident.

The controversy unfolded Friday when Democratic state Rep. Erica Thomas took to Facebook, claiming Eric Sparkes cursed her, called her a “lazy son of a b—h” and told her to go back where she came from as she and her young daughter stood in the express checkout lane at the grocery store. Sparkes, 57, reportedly grew upset because Thomas had too many items.

The lawmaker, who’s nine months pregnant, said she was in the express lane because she cannot stand for extended periods of time.

“I’m really upset, because people are really getting out of control with this white privilege stuff,” Thomas said through tears.

Sparkes acknowledged using foul language against the Georgia Democrat, but denied telling her to “go back” where she came from — a racist attack recently used by President Donald Trump against four congresswomen of color.

You lied about “everything that happened,” Sparkes told Thomas during a second confrontation captured by local media. “Me telling you to ‘Go back where you came from. Did I say that? Is it on video?”

Thomas shot back: “Are you serious? What did you say to me then.”

“I called you a lazy b—h,” said Sparkes. “That’s the worst thing I said.”

A full report of the incident, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, cites a witness account that contradicts Thomas’ version of events. According to the report, a Publix staffer told officers she witnessed part of the incident and heard the lawmaker repeatedly yell at Sparkes to “go back where you came from!” but didn’t hear Sparkes say that to Thomas.

At a press conference Monday, Thomas acknowledged telling Sparkes to “go back” out of the store, but only after he used that language toward her. The state rep was accused of backtracking on her claims after a clip surfaced of her admitting that Sparkes didn’t explicitly state “Go back to your country,’ or ‘Go back to where you came from.’ ”

“But he was making those types of references is what I remember,” she told WSB-TV in a separate interview.

Civil rights Attorney Gerald Griggs, who’s been a vocal supporter of the congresswoman, also obtained the full police report and criticized Cobb officers for interviewing witnesses who only saw part of the encounter.

There are other witnesses that the @cobbpolice1 didn’t interview like Ms. Taylor who saw the entire event,” he tweeted Tuesday.

Griggs then shared a screenshot of a direct message from a Ms. Taylor to Thomas, which read in part: “I was there in Publix at the service counter and watched that display of filth that was spewed to you. I had your back, and walked out right after you … to make sure you and your daughter got to your car safely.”

The controversy sparked the viral social media hashtag #IStandWithErica, as elected officials, constituents and the like threw their support behind the Georgia Democrat.

There have also been critics calling for Thomas to step down, dubbing her experience a “hate hoax” used for political gain.

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