It’s a grim reminder of just how fragile life is. Parked outside NOPD’s 2nd District is Officer Rodney Thomas’ unit. The memorial is just one of the ways his co-works, friends, and the community he spent eight years protecting are venting.
Carla Jewell is one of those Uptown residents who now feels a void. She owns PJ’s Coffee on Magazine Street and tells us Officer Thomas would come in once or twice a day.
“He was a neighborhood police officer. Everywhere, even if he was working, he would stop whether it would be at a convenience store or coffee shop. He would always talk to everybody,” says Jewell, “He was always positive whenever he would come in. He never had anything bad to say about anybody or about his work. He was just a little ray of sunshine when he would walk into the door.”
Jewell found out Officer Thomas was fatally struck Sunday on the High Rise just hours after it happened. She’s relieved 25-year-old Justin McKey who police say was driving the Porsche Panamera is now behind bars, booked with Hit and Run and Manslaughter. Also behind bars and booked with Obstruction of Justice and Accessory After the Fact to manslaughter are 28-year-old Kenneth Halley and 34-year-old Bill Cager who owns Best of the Best Auto Shop.
The Mid-City body shop is where the damaged Porsche was hidden until police found it, canvassed the scene for hours and towed it across the street to NOPD Headquarters Monday night.
It all seems surreal to Carla Jewell who is just trying to come to grips with the reality that her friend, Officer Rodney Thomas, won’t be visiting.
“He was just such a fixture here, and we just always looked forward to him coming in and his jokes and his stories and all the things he had to talk about. He was one of those special people,” says Jewell.
Police continue to release few details about their investigation. They say more arrests are possible.