On Sunday, a 17-year-old black teen was shot to death by North Little Rock Police Department (NLRPD) officers, prompting precipitous reactions from people that resorted to attacking the police before the evidence was in.
One problem: the teenager in question, Charles Smith Jr., 17, who was a passenger in a car pulled over for a routine traffic stop, had already pulled out a handgun and fired, and the incident was caught on dashcam footage in a video.
Yet Smith’s brother, 21-year-old Juwaun Jordan, who said he was one of the occupants in the vehicle, told KATV that officers shot arbitrarily, asserting, “They just pulled up, told us to get out, tussled with him, and they shot him and killed him.” He alleged Smith did not resist the officers and did not carry a gun, adding, "[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?"
There were others who insinuated police might have done something wrong:
At a Wednesday press conference, NLRPD Chief Mike Davis said, “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 explained that the incident occurred just after 1 a.m., after officers noticed a vehicle with a headlight violation traveling at an “excessive speed.”
The video shows one 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?” to which the driver says that he didn’t.
After the officer pats the driver down, he 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 answers, “No, sir, no, sir,” then allows police to search the vehicle.
Officers present ask a passenger to step out, then pat him down before telling him to sit on the curb next to the driver.
Then an officer asks Smith, “You ain’t got nothing crazy on you, do you?” Smith replies, “No, sir.”
The officer says to Smith, “Okay. I’m going to check real quick, alright?” While the officer pats Smith down, he asks about Smith’s shoes, before suddenly asking, “Hey, what you doing?”
Smith mumbles something about “weed,” prompting the officer to ask, “You got — just a little bit?” before he adds, “Ain’t going to find nothing else in here, right?” Then he says, “Hey — quit reaching, partner.”
Chief Davis stated, “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.”
The officer and Smith tumble to the ground, winding up near the feet of the driver and other passenger. Smith says. "I can't go to jail." The officer yells, “Get your f*****g hand out! It’s a f*****g gun!”
As the officers struggle to hold Smith down, they tase him, but as Sgt. Brian Dedrick told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Smith did not stop struggling.
Smith can be seen on the video firing his handgun; the bullet nearly hit the other two occupants of the car.
Davis said, “[Smith] is then observed engaging the slide back on the gun and again firing at officers, almost striking one officer in the face.”
Three officers then opened fire; Smith 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,” Chief Davis said.
Video below: (warning: graphic violence)