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Attorneys for woman in Winston Smith's car say she did not see him with a gun

Maya Rao, Alex Chhith, Maya Rao and Alex Chhith, Star Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Smith's family has retained several attorneys, including Ben Crump and Jeff Storms, who represented George Floyd's family in securing a $27 million civil settlement from the city of Minneapolis after he was killed by a policeman last year. Smith had posted a photo of himself posing with Crump on Instagram around the anniversary of Floyd's death.

"The government has now just heard the people's evidence," Storms said, standing next to Kidale Smith. "The people now deserve to hear the government's evidence. There is a lack of transparency by the lack of body cameras. We now ask for the government to come forward and show us what they have to support this narrative that they created which ... was now contradicted here today."

In the aftermath of Smith's shooting, sheriff's offices in Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka counties announced that they were suspending their participation in the federal task force because it prohibited body cameras from being used by deputies.

Levy Armstrong said the Racial Justice Network, a grassroots organization she leads, sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz earlier in the day asking him to remove all Minnesota law enforcement agents from participation in any task force of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The network also wants him to contact the White House to request an investigation of Smith's death, given that BCA Superintendent Drew Evans was appointed in 2015 by Minnesota's U.S. Marshal, Ramona Dohman, when she was commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.

Levy Armstrong said what happened to Smith was "completely unacceptable" in the wake of the recommendation by President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing after a police shooting and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, that all law enforcement officers wear body cameras.

Levy Armstrong, who on Tuesday led a protest of about 50 people outside Dohman's home, vowed that protesters will keep picketing there until the Trump appointee resigns or is fired by President Joe Biden.

Activists called on the news media to demand more transparency from law enforcement, citing an initial Star Tribune digital report shortly after the shooting that cited a police scanner report that the man shot may have been a murder suspect. Editors later removed that from the digital story and the paper has apologized for publishing that misinformation and is reexamining its practices and policies.

 

Activist Mel Reeves said the Star Tribune "made a grave error" in initially reported unfounded police assertions.

"The … family was already suffering," he said, "and to see their relative, their brother, was accused of being a murder suspect just added to the pain."

Reeves and other advocates against police brutality said the media must be skeptical of law enforcement accounts, given numerous cases where police statements have proved to be contrary to the evidence.

"Do not be a mouthpiece for these deputized cowboys … do your job," community organizer Toussaint Morrison told reporters.

Smith's funeral will be held Saturday at Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis.

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