City leaders in Montgomery, Alabama are launching a new investigation into to the officer-involved shooting death of an unarmed black man.
The office of City Investigations, which is similar to an Internal Affairs dept., will review evidence in the case against officer Aaron Smith. Only certain evidence – like radio calls and witness statements will be reviewed. Things like dash cam or body cam video, which can’t be replicated, will not be available for this new investigation as it is with the SBI.
Smith’s attorney called his arrest “a publicity move” meant to prevent planned protests at the expense of Smith, who used deadly force only after using non-lethal force on Gunn six times- – the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Smith shot 58-year-old Gregory Gunn on Feb 25, outside his neighbor’s house, as he walked back home from a late-night card game. The story drew national attention and has created unrest within the city of Montgomery and within the police dept.
MPD is demanding answers after one of its officers was arrested and charged with murder. They say not knowing what’s going on has been very difficult.
“(MPD officers) are unhappy, they are concerned, they are upset,” Mayor Todd Strange said. “One of their brother officers has been arrested and they have no answers. They are accustomed to gathering the answers and solving these sorts of questions, and so they’re in a very difficult position of not knowing.”
The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) conducted a 6-day investigation, after which officer Smith was arrested. It won’t be until March 24th, however, at a court hearing, where the DA and SBI will provide evidence of the probable cause which led to Smith ‘s arrest.
The county D.A., Daryl Bailey, says he wouldn’t release any more information or evidence before the hearing. He’s being criticized by the dept. for charging Smith so soon instead of allowing the investigation to continue and presenting evidence to the grand jury for an indictment once it was complete. But Bailey insists, “This followed the normal pattern. We said we were going to treat this like any other case and that’s what we’ve done.”
Mayor Strange says city leaders are in a tough spot right now, it’s a “no-win situation,” he said. “Our primary focus right now, particularly for MPD, is to come together as a family and do the job.”
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