The deadly shooting of a Black Arkansas teen was revealed in a dash cam video, which was released by the North Little Rock Police Department Wednesday. The graphic footage, released to dissuade misinformation from spreading on social media, showed Charles Smith Jr., 17, in a struggle with cops during a traffic stop.
Officers stopped Smith Jr. and two others about 1 a.m. Sunday for speeding and a busted headlight in North Little Rock, KATV reported. Smith was not driving the vehicle, sitting in the right rear of it. The car’s driver was patted down before cops searched the vehicle, having believed that the driver was “nervous,” the video revealed. Police then asked the driver, Smith and the front passenger to exit the car.
Smith was patted down, and cops found a small bag of marijuana in his pocket, police claimed. They also said that the teen attempted to grab a handgun and escape, setting off a struggle that ended with his death.
An officer unsuccessfully tried to subdue Smith with a taser, Police Chief Mike Davis said. Cops alleged that Smith pulled the handgun and fired a shot that nearly hit the other two passengers and almost maimed an officer’s face. Officers then fired “at close range” at Smith, who died at the scene.
“No officer wants to be put in this position, but these officers were left with no other choice but to protect their lives and return fire,” Davis said to The Kansas City Star.
The names of the officers who fired shots have not been released due to “death threats,” according to Davis.
The prosecuting attorney will determine if the use of deadly force was justified in Smith’s shooting. The police department will also conduct an internal investigation into if any department policies were violated.
Smith’s family hired Philadelphia attorney Lee Merritt. He told KATV, “It’s too soon to draw [a] conclusion,” said Merritt. “I think there’s too much evidence still not made available. So–what we saw today, what media was given today, what general public was given today, we saw and hear what law enforcement wants us to see.”
Justice demands that the family is treated with respect and allowed to see evidence in the case, Merritt also stated.
Memorials have been made for Smith after the tragedy as his family awaits the next steps in the investigation.
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