Winston Smith shooting: US marshals who killed Black man won’t face charges, prosecutor says

Prosecutor says the task force members were justified in using deadly force

Helen Elfer
Monday 11 October 2021 21:53
Family of Winston Smith disputes law enforcement narrative of deadly shooting
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A prosecutor has said he will not charge two members of a US Marshals Service task force who fatally shot Winston Smith Jr., a Black man, in Minneapolis in June.

ABC News reports that the Minnesota prosecutor said in a letter that the task force members were justified in using deadly force when they shot Smith on June 3.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced the decision on Monday.

The US Marshals Service said Smith didn’t comply as they tried to arrest him for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm and claimed he “produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.”

Smith was inside a parked SUV when the shooting occurred and the Hennepin County medical examiner said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said a handgun and spent cartridge were found inside the car, which was taken as evidence that indicated Smith had fired his gun.

However, Norhan Askar, who was in the SUV with Smith at the time has said that law enforcement officers did not identify themselves when they surrounded the vehicle and were not uniformed. Ms Askar also said that she didn’t see Smith with a gun and that he was shot after he raised a phone to begin recording what was happening.

Smith’s family members and activists have demanded transparency in the case, as no body camera footage of the shooting was taken. The task force members who shot Smith were working undercover and their names have not been released.

Minneapolis was the scene of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer more than a year earlier, which sparked horror and condemnation worldwide, and led to large-scale protests. The fatal shooting of another Black man, Daunte Wright, by an officer occurred in nearby Brooklyn Center in April.

Tensions in the city remain high, and at the time of Smith’s death, demonstrations took place in Minneapolis, including one in which a woman was killed when an intoxicated man drove into a crowd of protesters.

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