Cobb County

Video sheds new light on grocery store confrontation between lawmaker, man

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Cobb County police have released surveillance video from a grocery store that shows the moments a state lawmaker claims a man berated her for going through the express checkout lane.

State Rep. Erica Thomas maintains that Eric Sparkes told her to go back to where she came from while standing in the line of a Publix in Mableton.

In the video, Sparkes can be seen approaching Thomas at the end of the checkout line and pointing to the express lane sign.

[READ: State lawmaker, man she accused of verbally harassing her confront each other]

Then, the two can be seen getting into a heated argument.

In part of the video, what appears to be other shoppers stepping between the two can be seen.


Erica Thomas news conference | Eric Sparkes speaks with Channel 2

There is no audio on the surveillance video, so it is not clear what was said.

Another clip released shows body camera video from the responding police officer.

On that clip, the officer talks to Sparkes. Sparkes told the officer he was a few lanes down from Thomas and noticed she had more items than what the express lane limits.

“I go up to this lady. I go, ‘Ma’am, not to be rude … it’s a 10 items or less (lane). I don’t know if you realize it.' And all of a sudden, she blows up,” Sparkes told the officer. “She came after me.”

[READ: Police say no charges in confrontation between lawmaker, man inside Publix store]

Thomas said in an emotional Facebook Live video on Friday that she was waiting in the express lane with her daughter when Sparkes became angry.

"This white man comes up to me and says, 'You lazy son of [expletive]. You need to go back where you came from,'" the lawmaker said in her Facebook video. "Sir, you don't even know me. I'm not lazy. I'm nine months pregnant."

During a news conference Monday, Thomas said Sparkes verbally attacked her.

[READ: Police report disputes Georgia lawmaker's account of Publix incident]

“I said, ‘Are you really going to argue with me?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I am,’ and he kept cursing at me, kept berating me,” Thomas said. "I was embarrassed, and I was scared for my life."

“I don’t remember what she said, but she said a few words, and I go, 'Well, you’re a lazy (expletive).' I did say that,” Thomas told the officer. “But did I use that other term? Never.”

After the officer spoke to Sparkes, he then spoke with a store employee.

That store employee said Thomas was the one who told Sparkes to go back where he came from.

“She said that to him. ‘You can go back to where you came from,’ to him. He just kept calling her ignorant,” the employee told the officer.

Cobb County police said Tuesday that no one would be charged in the confrontation and they had provided information to Thomas and Sparkes on how to contact the Cobb County Magistrate’s Office if they wanted to pursue any further criminal action.

Channel 2 Action News reached out to both sides Wednesday.