Intense-looking man with closed-shaved hair

Lionel Thomas interview

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 – 4:30 p.m.

Lionel Thomas was convicted of drug trafficking after Detective Tatum arrested him.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.


  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Lionel Thomas

Detective Murphy: Thank you for talking to us.

Lionel Thomas: Don't look like I got much choice, do I?

Detective Armstrong: No, you don't, LT, so you might as well just shut up, behave, and answer our questions. Or else I'll have to call your parole officer and violate you right back in.

Lionel Thomas: Screw you, Armstrong.

Detective Murphy: Let's get this over with. What's your name?

Lionel Thomas: Lionel Thomas. You know that.

Detective Armstrong: Let the record show that the witness is also known as LT amongst the junkie community in town.

Lionel Thomas: Man, I ain't foolin' with them no more.

Detective Murphy: What's your address, LT?

Lionel Thomas: You just grabbed me outta my crib, pig! You know the damn address.

Detective Armstrong: You've been through police interviews since you were twelve. You know how it goes. Just answer our questions, and we'll leave you alone.

Lionel Thomas: My address is 722 Martin Luther King, Oxford.

Detective Murphy: And your occupation?

Lionel Thomas: I'm an entrepreneur.

Detective Murphy: What do you do?

Lionel Thomas: I'm going to blow up in a big way. I've got all kinds of business deals in progress.

Detective Armstrong: Unless you want me to call your parole officer and tell him you're back in business, why don't you quit pretending you're Jay-Z and tell us where you work?

Lionel Thomas: Right now, I'm working at Mr. Sparkle Car Wash, but that's just to get the law off my back. Gots to have a regular paycheck.

Detective Armstrong: It does help with rent and groceries and other minor details like that.

Lionel Thomas: Just another way the white man keeps me down. Forcing me to spend time at that damn car wash instead of letting me handle my business. Why do you think brothers always gotta work menial jobs when they get out? 'Cause puttin' dogs in prison ain't enough. They got to humiliate you when you get out. As soon as my probation's over, I'm quittin' that tired job.

Detective Murphy: You were acquainted with Detective Tatum?

Lionel Thomas: That dude was a tired, racist punk.

Detective Armstrong: Have some respect! He was a good man—

Lionel Thomas: He was a racist punk!

Detective Murphy: Both of you knock it off! Now, Lionel, why do you say he was racist?

Lionel Thomas: Because all cops are. Always pickin' on the brothers—

Detective Armstrong: Don't start with that crap—

Lionel Thomas: Oh, please! Are you blind? When I got to County, I didn't see no white boys up in there. Alls I see is black men. Ain't you got no rich white boy up at the college smoking chronic? You tryin' to tell me ain't no white boy on Fraternity Row dropped a roofie on no little sorority bimbo? Oh, they doin' it all right. You just don't want to catch them.

Detective Murphy: Please! Focus on Detective Tatum.

Lionel Thomas: What's to focus on? I done told you what I thought. It was only a matter of time before some homies got tired of his crap and pulled a 187 on his ass. I wasn't surprised at all.

Detective Armstrong: And you're just the type to do it, huh?

Lionel Thomas: Damn straight! But I never got my chance. But I got much love for the mutha who did get to him.

Detective Armstrong: How long was your stretch last time? Hope you enjoyed it because it's going to be my personal goal to make your life hell. You're going down for the count this time.

Lionel Thomas: Yeah, try it! You mess with me, and I'll take you off the watch too.

Detective Murphy: Why did you say "too"?

Detective Armstrong: You're threatening me. Who else did you threaten? Did you threaten Tatum? Did you cap him? Are you saying I'm next?

Lionel Thomas: Man, you know what I was sayin'.

Detective Armstrong: You better speak up!

Detective Murphy: Sit down, Ted!

Detective Armstrong: I'm leaving before I get in trouble, but I've got my eye on you, LT. You may not have had anything to do with this, but you better not have so much as a parking violation, or I'm sending your sorry ass back inside.

Lionel Thomas: Fine. Glad to see him go. Now, what do you want to talk about?

Detective Murphy: You know what, Lionel? You know what this is about. You can keep playing the fool if you want to, but it'll just make this take longer. You hear me?

Lionel Thomas: Yeah, yeah. You wanna know, did I kill that old racist cop? No, I did not. You prob'ly also wanna know where I was when he got hit. I don't know 'cause I don't know when that was. That's all I got. Can I go?

Detective Murphy: Can you account for your whereabouts over the last week? 

Lionel Thomas: I been around.

Detective Murphy: Be more specific.

Lionel Thomas: I told you what I know.

Detective Murphy: You need to know more, Lionel. Do you really want this kind of heat coming down on you because you decided to be a smart-ass instead of just playing it straight?

Lionel Thomas: Look, I told you. I don't know. I went to work. I went home. I hung out. I spent some time with my lady. I did what folks do, but I can't give you the when and where of every little thing.

Detective Murphy: That's not good for you, Lionel.

Lionel Thomas: See! It's always rigged, just like I said.

Detective Murphy: Enough. Here's what we're going to do. You're going to make a list of everyone who can corroborate your activities for the last ten days. You're going to write it down right here on this pad right now. You're not going to give me any more lip. You're just going to do what needs to be done. That way, no one's parole officer needs to get involved. You got it?

Lionel Thomas: Cops suck.

Detective Murphy: Write.

Interview ended – 4:53 p.m.


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