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At a press conference today, the North Little Rock Police Department released dashcam footage of the shooting of Charles Smith, Jr. 17, by an officer early Sunday morning. The video is posted below, with the shooting happening just after the four-minute mark.
WARNING: The footage is extremely graphic.
North Little Rock Police Chief Mike Davis said the video shows that the officers were "left with no other choice but to protect their lives and return fire." Davis said he decided that because posts about the shooting on social media have led to "misinformation [that] has caused concern in our community" the decision was made to release the footage today.
"I am hoping that it will get the truth out. And that people will see that the officers had no other choice," Davis said.
The video provided by the NLRPD begins after officers have stopped a car for speeding and a broken headlight on Sunday morning just after 1 a.m.. One officer asks the driver of the car to "step on out real quick" because the driver seems nervous. The officer then pats down the driver, who tells the police they are coming from a party.
“You got a little bit of weed or something in there like that? … Okay if we look?," the officer asks the driver. The driver tells the NLRPD officer he is nervous because he wants to join the police force in Little Rock. Both the driver and the other passenger, not Smith, are searched and sit down on the curb.
Smith, who was sitting in the rear seat, is searched last. With Smith and the officer performing the search still off screen, the officer yells that Smith has a gun. The footage shows Smith falling into frame with officers on top of him. He lands in front of the two men seated on the curb who have already been searched.
As the officers and Smith wrestle, you can see an officer attempting to use a yellow Taser on Smith's leg as the officers try to pull his hand from under him. When Smith's hand emerges, he's holding a semi-automatic pistol. A shot goes off. He then reaches for the gun with his other hand as if attempting to chamber another round. It looks as if he trying to fire again. "I can't go to jail," Smith says. Officers then shoot Smith multiple times. He died at the scene.
Chief Davis said that the video had already been shown to prosecuting attorney Larry Jegley, who is reviewing the file and will ultimately determine whether any charges will be brought in relation to the shooting. The video was also shown to the Smith family and their attorney this morning. Davis said his prayers and condolences are with the Smith family. The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
The full video as provided by the North Little Rock Police Department is seen below. The footage has been edited by the NLRPD to highlight the moments when Smith produces and fires the gun.
Lawyers for Smith released the following statement.