Kirsters Baish| A 17-year-old black teen was shot and killed on Sunday by North Little Rock Police Department officers. The shooting prompted angry reactions from people who felt it was appropriate to attack the police before the evidence even came in. A major issue with those attacking the police was that the teenager in question, Charles Smith Jr., who was a passenger in a car that was pulled over at a routine traffic stop, had pulled his own handgun and open fired. The entire incident was caught on the police dash cam.
Smith’s 21-year-old brother, Juwaun Jordan, stated that he was one of the occupants in the vehicle. He stated to KATV that officers randomly shot claiming, “They just pulled up, told us to get out, tussled with him, and they shot him and killed him.”
Jordan claimed that Smith didn’t resist arrest and wasn’t carrying a gun. He went on, “[The officer] just shot him five times. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t do nothing. He had three officers on top of him, so how was he moving?”
Some people even claimed that police were the ones who were in the wrong.
A press conference took place on Wednesday, during which NLRPD Chief Mike Davis stated, “I fear that misinformation gets out that says the subject wasn’t armed, that the subject didn’t shoot. That is not the case.”
Davis went on to explain that the incident took place just after 1 a.m. Officers had seen a car with a headlight violation which was speeding. The dash cam video shows an officer asking the driver off camera, “I’m catching a vibe from you, man. I’m just trying to figure it out brother. You ain’t got nothing crazy on you, do you?”
The driver claims that he did not.
Then, the officer proceeds to pat down the suspect. He then says, “I’m just going to shoot it straight with you. The way you were acting there, it made me feel like there’s something in that car. … You got a little bit of weed in there or something like that?”
The driver insists, “No, sir, no, sir.”
The driver then allows police to search the car.
Officers on the scene ask the passenger to step outside of the vehicle. They then pat him down before asking him to sit on the curb next to the driver of the car.
The officer then questions Smith, “You ain’t got nothing crazy on you, do you?” Smith answers, “No, sir.”
The officer then tells Smith, “Okay. I’m going to check real quick, alright?” During the time that the officer pats Smith down, he asks about Smith’s shoes, before suddenly questioning, “Hey, what you doing?”
Smith can be heard mumbling something about “weed.” The officer then asks, “You got — just a little bit? Ain’t going to find nothing else in here, right?” Then he states, “Hey — quit reaching, partner.”
Chief Davis explained, “As officers continued to pat him down, Smith attempted to gain control of a handgun and flee, at which time he was taken to the ground.”
Smith along with the police officer make their way onto the ground. They end up at the feet of the driver of the vehicle as well as the other passenger. Smith states, “I can’t go to jail.”
The officer can then be heard screaming, “Get your f*****g hand out! It’s a f*****g gun!”
The officers on the scene put up a struggle trying to hold Smith down. They are forced to take him, but Sergeant Brian Dedrick explained to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Smith would not cease from struggling.
Smith can be seen on the video firing the handgun. The bullet almost hits the two other boys that were in the car.
Davis stated, “[Smith] is then observed engaging the slide back on the gun and again firing at officers, almost striking one officer in the face.”
Three police officers were forced to open fire on Smith. He died at the scene.
Chief Davis explained, “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.”
You can watch the below: (warning: graphic violence)
It’s a big problem when the public wants to make snap judgements about police officers. The fact of the matter is that these officers were simply doing their job. They weren’t the ones in the wrong. Anyone who is going to defend someone who pulls a gun at a police officer during a routine traffic stop needs to get their head checked. Smith would still be alive today if he hadn’t pulled a gun on these officers.