FOP fights parole of convicted cop killer

Officer Thomas "Spanky" Bowen was killed in the line of duty.
Officer Thomas "Spanky" Bowen was killed in the line of duty.

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus's finest gathered Monday night to remember the life of one of their own. A life cut short at just 26-years-old.

Retired Police Sergeant Dan Scoggins was one of the few lucky ones to work with Officer Thomas "Spanky" Bowen before he was killed.

"He was a fantastic patrol officer, very dedicated to his job, and went out of his way to make sure he did a good job," said Sgt. Scoggins.

It was back on March 11th, 1984 that Officer Bowen ultimately gave his life for that job.

After responding to a burglary on Macon Road, Bowen ended up in a car chase with the suspect.

It was at the intersection of Auburn Avenue and Edgewood Road that the suspect lost of control of his car and crashed.

As Officer Bowen approached the vehicle to arrest the suspect, he was gunned down.

25 years later, the man who admitting to killing him, Lonnie Botts, is up for parole yet again, and the men and women of the Fraternal Order of Police are trying everything in their power to stop his release.

"Lonnie Botts stole the life of a good man, and it falls upon us to make sure this murderer never draws a free breath as long as he lives," said Major Randy Robertson, President of the FOP.

For the second time around, FOP members are petitioning the state parole board.

Back in 2005, with the help of the community, over 2,800 letters flooded the state parole board, all against the release of Botts from prison.

These police officers hope the community will help them again, saying the stakes are too high to let the man who killed one of their own out of prison.

"I think it sends a terrible message anytime we put somebody like that on the street. He's shown society who he is, and sometimes there's things you just don't outgrow," said Sgt. Scoggins.

"I say Lonnie Botts made a choice, and the consequence for that choice is that he should spend the rest of his life in prison," said Major Robertson.

If you want to help, officers are asking that you come to the Columbus Public Safety Building this Friday, February 20th from 10AM until 5PM and sign your own petition letter to the parole board.