Members of a US Marshals Service task team will not face charges in the shooting death of Winston Smith Jr., a Black man who was slain while authorities attempted to capture him as he sat in his car during the summer.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office released the information on Monday (Oct. 11). The task force members’ use of deadly force when they shot and killed Smith on June 3 was justifiable, according to Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, the Minnesota prosecutor who evaluated the case. Smith fired his revolver while officials pursued the arrest, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Outside Smith’s SUV, police discovered a handgun and expended cartridge. He “presented a firearm, resulting in task force members firing upon the individual,” according to the US Marshals Service.
Norhan Askar, a woman in Smith’s SUV at the time of the shooting, told her lawyers that the officers were not in uniform and did not properly identify themselves when they approached the vehicle with their weapons drawn. Askar also claimed that she never saw a gun on Smith or in his car, and that he was shot after raising his phone to start filming the incident.
There is no video of the shooting, according to officials. Because there was no body camera footage, Smith’s relatives and local activists demanded transparency. Despite an Oct. 2020 Justice Department policy allowing law enforcement and task forces to “activate a body-worn camera while serving arrest warrants, or during other planned arrest operations, and during the execution of search warrants,” the task force’s deputies were reportedly given body cams but were told they couldn’t use them by the US Marshals Service.
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