Suspect last faced judge in November

ALBANY, Ga. -- The man accused of fatally shooting Dougherty County police officer Lt. Cliff Rouse was last before a court in early November, records show.

According to documents obtained Tuesday by The Albany Herald, Dontravius Thomas, 20, last appeared in court for a probation revocation hearing on Nov. 4. Originally scheduled to appear before Judge Stephen Goss, Senior Judge Loring Gray presided instead because Goss had a scheduling conflict.

The documents state that while Gray revoked Thomas' first-offender status and sentenced him to 24 months in the Dougherty County Jail and extended his probation by four years, he ordered the jail time to be suspended.

Thomas was subsequently released from custody with his new special conditions of his probation and is believed to have attempted to rob a convenience store, the Pitt Stop on Sylvester Road, last Thursday. He is charged with felony murder, accused of fatally wounding Rouse in a gunfight when Rouse attempted to break up the robbery.

Rouse was buried Tuesday amid public outcry over how his alleged killer was allowed to have violated his felony probation twice without being sentenced to prison.

As previously reported in The Albany Herald, Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of burglary after being accused of breaking into the Pitt Stop.

With no previous adult criminal violations and given that burglary is a non-violent offense, Thomas was granted first-offender status and sentenced to five years on probation, ordered to take rehabilitative classes and pay a fine.

But twice Thomas appeared in local courts, where he stipulated that he violated the terms of his probation -- one for failing a drug test and failure to report to his probation officer and again for failure to pay his fine, attend classes and report to his probationer -- and both times he was released.