Making stupid mistakes might be a right of passage for teenagers, but if that stupid mistake includes pulling a gun on a cop, it might be your right of passage to the afterlife. That was the case with one 17-year-old from Arkansas who unnecessarily escalated a routine traffic stop and ended up shot by police.
The incident garnered quite a bit of press, and since the teen was black, the entire world wanted to pin the incident on police. Vigils were held, accusations were hurled, but in the end, the dashcam video was released, along with audio, and the world now knows the truth.
Daily Mail reports that the teen not only pulled a gun during the altercation, but shot once at police, and was trying to shoot again when an officer fatally shot him:
“Police have released a dramatic dashcam video that shows a 17-year-old pulling a gun and firing it at cops before officers shoot him dead in Arkansas.
Smith was a rear-seat passenger in a car pulled over for speeding and a headlight violation in the 5200 block of Camp Robinson Road in North Little Rock, Arkansas, just after 1am on Sunday.
The clip shows him wrestling with an officer and while on the ground, pointing his gun at officers, firing it once and cocking it again before the officers fired a fatal shot.”
This incident is incredibly sad because a young life ended in what was probably just a foolish teenage error. However, the problem is made way worse if his death is going to be used to cause more animosity against law enforcement, and ingrained more young men and women with the mistrust that would cause them to have the same fate.
“North Little Rock Police Chief Mike Davis said he hopes releasing the video will dispel ‘misinformation’ that Charles Smith was unarmed during the confrontation.
‘Since the incident, a great deal of erroneous information has appeared on social media outlets. … I want to make sure we clear that up today,’ Davis said.
The five-minute video shows a patrolman tell the driver to step out of the car, asking, ‘You ain’t got anything crazy on you, do you?’ and ‘Why were you driving so dang-gummed fast, man?’”
It’s worth noting here that the officer who initially engaged the teenager was perfectly polite and chatty. You can clearly hear in the video (below) that he did everything he could possibly do to put all of the vehicle’s occupants at ease, and let them know what he was going to do before he did it. In fact, he seemed to be going above and beyond to make sure they knew he was no threat. Nothing happened quickly until the gun came out:
“After searching the driver and a front-seat passenger, the officer searched Smith and asked about weapons, marijuana and his Nike Air Force 1 shoes.
‘How do you like them?’ the officer said, chit-chatting during a pat-down.
After twice telling Smith to not reach for something, the two suddenly wrestled to the ground.
‘I can’t go to jail,’ Smith cried out. An officer’s attempt to use a Taser failed.
‘Get your (expletive) hand out,’ an officer told Smith, whose hands were out of the camera’s view. Then the officer yelled, ‘It’s a (expletive) gun.’
The video shows Smith pointing a handgun at officers, cocking it while his right hand is pinned against a curb, firing it, and then cocking it again. The officers then opened fire, killing Smith.
A lawyer for Smith’s family, Willard Proctor Jr., said police showed the video to the teenager’s relatives earlier Wednesday.
‘We’re not at a point where we can make any conclusions,’ Proctor said.
He said that once a complete set of video footage is released, there could be an opportunity to look into ‘what, if anything, could have been done differently.’
Davis said the officers involved did not have body cameras.
He said the names of the officers involved could be released after a plan is in place to protect them, since the agency has received threats.
‘Misinformation gets out that says … the subject wasn’t armed, the subject didn’t shoot,’ Davis said.
‘He was armed and we, in fact, had to take action because of that. I want people to see what happened.’”
Any loss of life is a tragedy, but sadly we all make our own choices, and this young man made the choice to try and take a life, and the officers in question were just defending themselves.
WARNING: Some strong language and disturbing images
Sadly this death was destined to be politicized, because of the color of his skin. If we remove that political aspect though, we see a spooked kid that shouldn’t have been in possession of a firearm who lied to police and then did a stupid thing that got him killed. The ironly is that if we spent as much time teaching our kids how to behave themselves around law enforcement instead of how to hate them we would have less deaths and actually need less police.