Family of man punched in the face by Vivian officer reacts to viral video


VIVIAN, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The family of a man sitting behind bars is speaking out after a video showing his encounter with Vivian police officers went viral on social media.

Jamtavious Thomas, 29, is currently behind bars at the Caddo Correctional Center, charged with resisting arrest by force and aggravated battery. Thomas was wanted on a warrant for the latter charge when he was pulled over Sunday by officers in Vivian who recognized the description of his vehicle that had been broadcast to area agencies.

The video picks up as the officers are asking Thomas to get out of the vehicle and warning him not to resist.

Thomas denies resisting and says he is about to get out of the vehicle while objecting, claiming they have no probable cause, and continues to argue why they pulled him over. When the officer reaches for the keys in the ignition, Thomas objects again.

“Man, don’t touch my keys! Man, what’s wrong wit’ you, bro?” Thomas asks.

The officer, who has not been identified, appears to punch Thomas in the face, telling him, “Man, I will mess you up!”

Thomas immediately addresses the camera.

“That man just throwed on me, did y’all see that? That man just hit me, did you see that?”

Thomas ultimately got out of the vehicle on his own, with the officer holding on to his arm, and he was taken into custody.

“Do they train you guys to punch people in the face?” asked Thomas’ sister, Kembal. “I didn’t know officers were trained to do that. I am not anti-police but I do feel if no justice is served it will be no justice no peace because I am for right and that was wrong.”

Jamtavious’s parents said they struggled to watch it.

“That hurt me so bad, to see somebody just, there is no reason in this world that you could give me of you with a badge on your chest to tell me there was a reason for you to hit someone,” said Cassandra Cole, Thomas’s mother.

His father said that he, too, was in a similar encounter with police and feared for his son.

“I felt empty inside because I knew he was helpless,” Kemp Cole said. “Every man in America’s wouldn’t want their son to be hit like that in the face. wouldn’t no man want their son to be hit like that.”

Vivian police chief Ryan Nelson said everything the officers did leading up to the video was correct. But he doesn’t agree with the initial reaction from the officer. That officer has since been placed on administrative leave.

“He violated his 4th amendment and his 14th amendment. and I feel like something should be done about it,” Cassandra Cole said. “What example does this set for the streets now? the streets of Vivian now? Do you have officers punching someone now? So how are you expecting these young men to respect the law?”

“Justice is that officer getting fired. justice is them letting my brother walk out of that door right now, that’s justice to me,” Kembal Thomas said.

Chief Nelson has since asked Louisiana State Police to investigate whether the use of force was warranted.

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