Mableton, GA – The Georgia lawmaker who claimed that a “white man” berated her during a racist tirade at a grocery store was actually the only person heard saying “go back to where you came from,” store employees said.
Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas’ hoax hate crime story went viral after she posted a tearful rundown of what supposedly occurred to Facebook on July 19.
Thomas claimed that earlier that day, she was confronted by a “white man” for having too many items in the express lane at the Mableton Publix store.
The state representative claimed that the man, later identified as Eric Sparkes, called her a “lazy son-of-a-b---h,” and told her to “go back to where you came from.”
Sparkes, an outspoken Democrat who is also Cuban, adamantly denied having told Thomas to go back to where she came from.
He admitted he did call her a “selfish little b---h” after she lashed out at him for pointing out her abuse of the express lane.
Thomas subsequently back peddled on her account of what occurred, but doubled-down on her original allegations just a day later.
She has repeatedly declared that security footage and witnesses would “collaborate” her account – but that’s not what ended up taking place.
In fact, the witnesses’ stories didn’t back up Thomas’ self-proclaimed “hate crime” allegations at all.
The employees said they never heard Sparkes tell Thomas to “go back to where you came from,” but that they did hear the lawmaker say those words to Sparkes.
“She said that to him,” the employee told a Cobb County police officer on Saturday, bodycam footage showed. “’You can go back to where you came from’ to him.”
Witnesses told police that the confrontation lasted only about 45 seconds, and that Thomas “kept ‘running her mouth’” after Sparkes turned to leave, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
Witnesses also said they did not recall having heard Sparkes tell the lawmaker to “go back to where you came from,” according to the paper.
On Tuesday, Cobb County police announced that they conducted a thorough investigation into Thomas’ claims, and that they have no intentions of filing criminal charges against Sparkes, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
Thomas is not expected to be charged either, according to WSB.
“Everyone that knows me knows that I am anti-hate, anti-bigot and anti-racism,” Sparkes said after police announced that he won’t face any charges, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Sadly, too much of media isn’t fact-checking items or they are just taking the word of a politician when they do a live Facebook or a Twitter post.”
Thomas’ supporters were quick to accept her account without question and her tearful Facebook video quickly went viral.
“I’m about to be very Transparent because this racism and hate is getting out of control!” she captioned the video. “I feared for my life!”
The sobbing lawmaker said that she took 15 items to the 10-item checkout lane.
“Yes, I had 15 items, but I’m nine months pregnant, and I can’t stand up for long,” she said in the video.
Thomas said that a “white man” suddenly approached her, and called her a “lazy son-of-a-b---h.”
“You need to go back where you came from,” the man told her, according to Thomas.
She said that the man told her she was “ignorant,” and that his comments “hurt me so bad.”
Thomas claimed that the man kept harassing her, and that she was “scared” to leave the store because he could have followed her to her car and pulled out a gun.
People are “out of control” with their “white privilege stuff,” she declared. “Why y’all hate people y’all hurt like that?...It’s inciting so much hate!”
The following day, Sparkes identified himself to reporters and spoke out about what he claimed were false allegations against him.
In an interview with WXIA, Sparkes said he was frustrated when he saw Thomas with approximately 20 items in the 10-item lane, so he went to speak with store associates about the situation.
Two other regular lanes were also open at the time, he added.
They told him it was against store policy for employees to confront Thomas, but noted that it was fine for another customer to say something to her, Sparkes said.
Surveillance footage showed Sparkes as he approached the express checkout line and pointed at the sign displaying the item limit for the express lane.
Sparkes said he then politely addressed the fact that she was not complying with the item limit.
He said that Thomas suddenly came towards him and berated him, and that he took a couple of steps backwards before he told her she was “selfish.” A moment later, he called her a “selfish little b---h,” he confirmed.
“I did say that,” Sparkes reiterated. “That’s all I said, and after that I walked out of Publix.”
The self-proclaimed Democrat adamantly denied having told Thomas to go back to where she came from, and alleged that she was “playing the victim for political purposes.”
“I’m Hispanic,” he railed. “I don’t care what she thinks – she’s doing it for political purposes – period!”
During Sparkes’ interview, Thomas barged in twice and interrupted his interaction with reporters.
“You are going to jail!” she declared, as she berated him in front of the cameras.
She then began arguing with Sparkes – who is Cuban – and repeatedly assured him that he is “white.”
“Do you feel bad?” Thomas asked him at one point.
“Do you understand you’re a liar?” he asked her.
In an interview with WSB, Thomas said that Sparkes is guilty of “simple assault,” and claimed that there are witnesses who would support her allegations against him.
But when a reporter started to question her further about Sparkes’ exact words during the exchange, the lawmaker began to falter.
“I mean like, I know what – I don’t know if he said ‘go back,’ you know, those types of words…I don’t wanna say he said ‘go back to your country’ or ‘go back where you came from,’ but he was making those types of references,” she stammered.
A reporter again asked if she remembered Sparkes’ exact words.
“No, no, definitely not,” Thomas responded. “But I know it was ‘go back’ because I know I told him to ‘go back.’”
Thomas said she filed a police report over the altercation, which she labeled as a “hate crime.”
“We have to make an example out of this man…He needs to be arrested,” she declared. “Because I had the courage to do this.”
“I feared for my life,” added Thomas, who is much larger than Sparkes in size.
According to the lawmaker, Publix also opened an “internal investigation” into the situation in order to determine why none of the employees tried to help her.
During a news conference on Monday, Thomas doubled-down on her allegations against Sparkes, and said she was certain that he had told her to “go back to where you came from,” WSB reported.
“He said it right after he said ‘No, I know you people,’” she told reporters. “You’re ignorant.”
Thomas also faced backlash this week for a previous Twitter post she made expressing his support for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter.
The 20-year-old gunman murdered 17 students and faculty during the 2018 massacre, and left 17 more wounded.
“My heart goes out to [the gunman]!!” Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Some don’t know how to cope with being an orphan. I thank God everyday for getting me through the system in one piece. #FloridaShooting #mentalhealth #PrayforDouglas #prayfornik”
Hunter Pollack, whose sister Meadow was murdered in the attack, blasted Thomas on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Erica Thomas tweeted after my sister was killed that we should pray for her killer. Nothing about his 17 victims,” Hunter railed. “She is now using her race to justify misbehaving at a grocery store. I feel bad for the man being falsely accused of a hate crime!”
“My daughter was the victim,” Meadow’s father, Andrew Pollack, wrote in another tweet. “Her classmates were the victims. Her teachers were the victims. “How dare @itsericathomas give the kid who murdered my daughter even a shred of empathy!”
Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter Alaina was also murdered in the attack, posted about Thomas’ tweet on Monday.
Thomas deleted the message of support for the mass shooter early Tuesday, FOX News reported.
In 2015, Thomas also described herself as the “biggest fan” of Jussie Smollett, who later staged a hate crime on himself in Chicago, according to FOX News.