GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The family of a man who died in police custody is calling for policy change and officers to be held accountable.
This all stems from an incident back on September 8th, 2018. Greensboro Police say Marcus Deon Smith was "suicidal" and "disoriented" and running in and out of traffic in downtown Greensboro. The press release from September says while officers were attempting to transport him for mental evaluation, the subject became combative and collapsed. Both EMS and on-scene officers began rendering aid and Smith was transported to a hospital where he later died.
After viewing body camera footage in October, Smith's family sees things differently. In a written statement, they say Smith was "hogtied" and died as a result. It reads in part:
"...Marcus was not attacking the officers. He may have been acting erratically, but he wasn't trying to hurt anyone.
Marcus asked the officers for help, but instead of being offered help, four white officers used as much force as possible without directly hitting or shooting him. There were 9 officers on scene, and four that came in direct contact with him. They could have used other methods to restrain him. 'Hog tying' him was completely unnecessary."
Greensboro Police say all forms of restraints used are well within national standards.
The SBI has been investigating the incident since September. An SBI investigator says they've interviewed the officers involved as well as EMS and fire crews who responded. They've also seen the body camera footage.
The SBI is still waiting on the autopsy report, which also includes a toxicology report. They say this is one of they key pieces of evidence they need to complete their case. They're hoping the report will be available by the end of the year. They say it sometimes takes 3-6 months for the state lab to complete an autopsy.
Smith's family is now calling on Greensboro City Council to view the body camera footage and take action.
An attorney for the family sent a letter to Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Council members this week calling for them to view the body camera footage and take action to ensure this doesn't happen to anyone else again.
Attorney Graham Holt will be holding a press conference Wednesday afternoon along with Smith's family and several religious and community leaders who support them.
CITY OF GREENSBORO RESPONDS TO POLICE CUSTODY DEATH
The City of Greensboro responded to the news conference regarding the in-custody death of Marcus Deon Smith, saying the City’s position is as follows:
- Per Greensboro Police Department policy, the State Bureau of Investigation was contacted to conduct an independent investigation.
- The Guilford County District Attorney’s office forwarded a letter to the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) indicating, based on the information collected by the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), pending its final report, there was no criminal liability with the police actions concerning this incident. The district attorney’s office states the officers acted at all times within the scope of their duties and with justification under all applicable laws.
- The SBI final report is not complete, but the position of the district attorney’s office is there is sufficient evidence to support its decision related to the officers’ actions.
- A GPD internal review was completed and no violations of policy were found.
The loss of any member of the community is unfortunate. The City of Greensboro has a process for residents to bring concerns to the Greensboro Criminal Justice Advisory Commission. The commission is tasked with reviewing criminal justice issues and working closely with the Greensboro Police Department.