Police officers arguably have one of the most intense and dangerous careers in the world. Their lives can change in a split second, and they are constantly under scrutiny. Distrust between officers of the law and citizens has gotten so bad that officer body cams have been given to many police departments to mitigate citizen’s claims that officers were too aggressive.
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These body and dash cams have exonerated officers more than once. This is another perfect example of people trying to spread misinformation that makes officers, who were only trying to conduct a routine traffic stop, look bad.
Charles Smith was shot and killed by police on the morning of December 7, after he pulled a gun while being patted down. Friends and family members of Smith, who was also nicknamed “C.J.,” proclaimed that officers murdered him in cold blood.
“The police already tased C.J. and had him on the ground and they didn’t even see the gun and had his head on the ground and C.J. knew they were already going to kill him,” a friend of C.J.’s told THV11.
Shortly after, the story that Smith was executed began to circulate from Smith’s friends and family. “We’re not protected and we don’t know how we’re going to be protected. A traffic stop turns into an execution, it’s scary,” a family friend, Devon Hatchett said.
Thankfully for the officers involved, they had tangible video evidence that showed exactly what happened that Sunday morning. After mounting pressure from those involved with the 17-year-old, the North Little Rock Police Department released the dash cam footage of what transpired that morning.
Police Chief Mike Davis stated that the video was released in order to stop the misinformation that was plaguing the investigation. “Since the incident, a great deal of erroneous information has appeared on social media outlets. … I want to make sure we clear that up today,” Davis said.
According to the New York Post, Smith was seated in the backseat when the vehicle was pulled over for speeding and missing a headlight. Officers noticed Smith acting erratic, prompting them to question him.
“You ain’t got anything crazy on you, do you?” and “Why were you driving so dang-gummed fast, man?” One officer is heard saying in the video.
Smith was instructed twice not to put his hands out of the sight of the three officers on the scene. A struggle between Smith and an officer ensued. “I can’t go to jail,” Smith is heard yelling out while he is fighting on the ground with the officer.
Smith continued to grab for his waistband in his pants until one officer yelled, “It’s a (expletive) gun.” The video shows a gun in Smith’s hand as he begins to point it at officers. As the officers try to take the gun away from him, he somehow manages to cock it and shoot it, barely missing the officers.
The officers then, in turn, opened fire on Smith killing him. Since the investigation is still ongoing, the three officers’ names have yet to be released to the public. Willard Proctor Jr., the lawyer representing the Smith family informed the public that the family has viewed the dash cam video.
“We’re not at a point where we can make any conclusions,” Proctor said. He said that once a complete set of video footage is released, there could be an opportunity to look into “what, if anything, could have been done differently.”