Growing calls for transparency over law enforcement killing of Winston Smith

Attorneys representing the passenger who was in the car with Smith claim he didn't have a gun.
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Attorneys representing the woman who was in the vehicle with Winston Smith when he was fatally shot by police in an Uptown parking lot last week say she never saw Smith with a gun, or one in his vehicle.

Racey Rodne, the attorney for the as-yet unnamed woman who was injured by glass debris after Smith was fatally shot by deputies working for a U.S. Marshals task force on June 3, said on Thursday: "She never saw a gun on Winston Smith, and she never saw a gun inside the vehicle at any time."

This would contradict the initial statement from the U.S. Marshals Service, which said Smith "produced a gun" as well as the update from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which said evidence at the scene indicates a shot was fired from inside Smith's vehicle.

In the wake of the attorneys' comments, the BCA reiterated its stance that there is evidence Smith fired from inside the vehicle.

Nonetheless, the woman's legal team and attorneys representing the Smith family have been adding their voices to community members who have called for greater transparency and accountability from authorities following Smith's killing.

There have been several developments in the past week that have raised concerns about transparency from law enforcement, which include: 

– The shooting was carried out by undercover deputies in unmarked vehicles working for the North Star Fugitive Task Force, with the Minnesota BCA saying this week that the deputies who carried out the shooting won't be identified publicly because they were undercover at the time.

– The deputies who shot Smith and other members of the U.S. Marshals task force at the scene were not wearing operational body cameras at the time of the shooting.

– Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher accused the U.S. Marshals Service of being "misleading" when it said it would update its policies to require bodycams be worn by task force members in the wake of Smith's death, saying: "In Minnesota, the Marshals office has refused to allow us to wear body cameras since the advent of the technology and any new policy has not been implemented."

– The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says there is no known video footage available of Smith's death, though WCCO reports it did find security cameras on top of the ramp, where the shooting happened. It's not known if these cameras were operational, however.

– Smith was initially reported on police scanner traffic as being a suspect in a murder, which in turn was reported by the Star Tribune. This was false, prompting the Star Tribune to issue a belated correction on Wednesday. Smith was wanted for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2019, which comes after he was convicted in 2017 of aggravated robbery after he assaulted an ex-girlfriend while another woman took her purse.

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