The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released much of its investigative file into the law enforcement killing of Winston Smith on June 3.
The file into Smith's death contains more than 1,000 pages of documents, hundreds photos, and dozens of audio files related to Smith's death. Body and dash-camera footage from responding officers after the shooting has not yet been released because it's in the process of being redacted, BCA spokesperson Jill Oliveira told Bring Me The News.
Smith, 32, died on June 3 after he was shot on the top level of a parking ramp on Girard Avenue South in Uptown, Minneapolis. The U.S. Marshals said a task force was trying to arrest Smith on a warrant related to him missing a court appearance on being a felon in possession of a gun. Two undercover agents — one a member of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, the other from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office — fired at Smith, who died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Last week, the Crow Wing County Attorney found that Smith death at the hands of law enforcement was "reasonable and justified," so charges against the officers won't be filed. However, Smith's family is calling for an independent investigation into his death and called for the release of all evidence in the case.
The decision not to charge the officers opened the door for the BCA to release its investigative file into the shooting, which it did on Wednesday.
Evidence released indicates Smith did draw a gun and fired from inside the vehicle but it is not clear who shot first (though police officers do not have to wait for someone else to fire before opening fire themselves).
Here are some other revelations from the case file, which is on the BCA's website here:
- Some officers involved in the shooting refused to be interviewed by the BCA. They submitted written statements instead.
- In an audio interview with Norhan Askar, who had been dating Smith for about three weeks and was with Smith at the time he was shot, told a BCA investigator she pleaded with Smith to put his hands up and cooperate but Smith reportedly said "I don't want to go to jail" and later said he was going to die. He was trying to get a Facebook livestream started, at which time the driver's side window, next to Smith, broke. Askar says she then ducked, saying whatever came through the window would have hit her if she hadn't moved.
- Askar said, at the time of the 22-minute interview, she didn't know if Smith was dead or not.
- The only weapons Askar saw were from officers.
- Minneapolis Police Officer Dean Milner took custody of Askar at the scene and rode with her in the ambulance to the hospital because she suffered an apparent shrapnel injury. Milner told investigators he didn't tell Askar that Smith may not survive because he didn't want her "mindset to change to sympathy."
- The gun that was recovered from Smith's Maserati had the same serial number as a gun that was reported stolen in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 17, 2020. The victim told police there that she believed her ex-boyfriend was behind the theft and she did not know Smith.
- There is a photo of a gun in the Maserati and a search of the vehicle led to a magazine for a Smith and Wesson and a Smith and Wesson being recovered.
- Photos released show blood on Askar's shoes and dress and nine holes in the driver's side window of the Maserati SUV Smith was driving, which were from law enforcement's apparent attempt to break the window with a pole window break device, one official said.
- A few of the Minneapolis police officers who arrived after the shooting and were working the perimeter of the scene were instructed by a sergeant to turn off their body-worn cameras when the battery was low to conserve battery due to working long shifts and the potential for work additional hours.
- The medical examiner removed 14 "projectiles" or "projectile fragments" (bullet or bullet fragments) from Smith's body that were submitted for evidence, including items found in his finger, chest, heart, back, mouth and forearm.