North Little Rock, AR – The North Little Rock Police Department (NLRPD) released a dashcam footage of an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Sunday, after a “great deal of misinformation” about the incident began to circulate on social media, the police chief said (video below).
Investigators said that Charles Smith Jr., 17, was fatally shot by officers when he opened fire during a traffic stop, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
“I fear that misinformation gets out that says the subject wasn’t armed, that the subject didn’t shoot,” NLRPD Chief Mike Davis said during a Wednesday press conference. “That is not the case.”
The traffic stop occurred on Sunday just after 1 a.m., after officers noticed a vehicle with a headlight violation that was also traveling at an “excessive speed,” Chief Davis said.
Officers at the scene noted that the driver seemed nervous.
“You ain’t got nothing crazy on you, do you?” an officer asked the driver off-camera.
The driver responded that he didn’t, and complied with the officer’s request to pat him down.
The officer chatted with the driver for a moment, then addressed his concerns.
“I’m just going to shoot it straight with you,” the officer finally said. “The way you were acting there, it made me feel like there’s something in that car.”
“Yeah I know,” the driver responded.
“You got a little bit of weed in there or something?” the officer asked.
“No sir, no sir,” the driver said. He then consented to a search of his vehicle.
Officers asked one of the occupants of the vehicle to step out, and patted him down without incident before he sent him to sit on the curb alongside the driver.
“You ain’t got nothing crazy on you, do you?” the officer asked Smith, the final occupant of the vehicle.
“No, sir,” Smith said.
“Okay. I’m going to check real quick, alright?” the officer said.
During the pat down, the officer commented on Smith’s shoes and asked him how he liked them before the conversation suddenly changed course.
“Hey, what you doing?” the officer asked.
Smith then mumbled something about “weed.”
“You got – just a little bit?” the officer asked. Police later confirmed that a small bag of marijuana was seized from Smith.
A moment later, the officer was heard telling Smith not to reach.
“Ain’t going to find nothing else in here, right?” the officer asked. “Hey – quit reaching, partner.”
A moment later, a brief rustling noise was heard on the video.
“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,” Chief Davis said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The officer and Smith then tumbled into the view of the camera, and landed near the feet of the other two individuals who had been in the car.
“Get your f*****g hand out!” an officer yelled. “It’s a f*****g gun!”
The officers struggled to hold Smith to the ground. They Tased him at least once, but he was not subdued, Sergeant Brian Dedrick told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The video showed Smith as he pulled a handgun and fired.
Police said the bullet nearly hit Smith’s associates, who rushed to move out of the way.
“[Smith] is then observed engaging the slide back on the gun and again firing at officers, almost striking one officer in the face,” Chief Davis said.
Three officers then opened fire, and 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.
The NLRPD press conference came just days after Smith’s brother, 21-year-old Juwaun Jordan, told KATV that officers shot Smith for no apparent reason.
KATV ran a piece which only presented Jordan's now disproven side of the story.
Jordan said he was one of the occupants in the vehicle.
“They just pulled up, told us to get out, tussled with him, and they shot him and killed him," he claimed.
Jordan, who was seen in the dashcam video as he sat on the curb, alleged that Smith did not resist the officers. He also claimed that his brother didn't carry a gun, despite Smith shooting the gun right toward Jordan.
"[The officer] just shot him five times," he said. "He couldn't move, he couldn't do nothing. He had three officers on top of him, so how was he moving?"
Although the video clearly showed that an officer attempted to subdue Smith with a Taser, Jordan seemed to have missed that portion of the altercation, as well.
"Why did y'all shoot him?" Jordan wailed during his KATV interview. "Y'all got Tasers. Use them Tasers. Why did y'all have to kill him?"
Jordan and the other passenger were charged with possession of a firearm, he said.
Investigation of the incident is ongoing, and the findings will be submitted to the Pulaski County Attorney’s Office, Chief Davis said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The unnamed officers have been placed on administrative leave, as per protocol.
You can see the video of the incident below. The fight starts shortly after the 4 minute mark: