Minneapolis, MN – Officials announced Monday that members of a U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) task force were justified when they shot 32-year-old Winston “Boogie” Smith in June on a Minneapolis parking ramp.
The incident occurred at about 2:10 p.m. on June 3 near West Lake Street and Freemont Avenue South when members of the task force attempted to arrest Smith, who had a warrant for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, KSTP reported.
The task force, which was largely made up of local law enforcement but did not include any Minneapolis police officers, said the suspect was sitting in a parked car when officers tried to take him into custody.
USMS said the suspect ignored officers’ commands and drew a handgun, according to Reuters.
“During the incident, the subject, who was in a parked car, failed to comply and produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject,” the official USMS statement read.
The suspect was fatally shot and pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, KSTP reported.
Rioters vandalized businesses and set dumpsters on fire in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis hours after Smith was shot.
Smith was on probation for an aggravated robbery conviction from 2017 and had failed to appear for sentencing in May on an unrelated firearm conviction in Ramsey County, which led to the state issuing a warrant for his arrest.
Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan investigated the officer-involved shooting because prosecutors in the Twin Cities area had conflicts of interest, NBC News reported.
Hennepin County released the findings of Ryan’s investigation on Monday.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) previously said that the evidence indicated that Smith had fired his gun at task force officers first, WCCO reported.
Officials said that a Hennepin County deputy and a Ramsey County deputy both fired at Smith.
Their identities have been withheld from the public since both officers work undercover, WCCO reported.
The Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office’s review of the case found that the USMS task force was “readily identifiable” as law enforcement officers when they told Smith he was under arrest and ordered him out of his car.
Investigators determined that Smith “failed to comply with lawful orders” and “initiated a deadly force confrontation” when officers tried to break a window to get into his vehicle, WCCO reported.
The prosecutor’s review found that Smith reached for something in the backseat, and then a task force member yelled that he had a gun and fired at him.
That’s when the other officer who was trying to break the window dropped his tool and fired his weapon at Smith, WCCO reported.
“Though I am unable to determine who fired first, it is irrelevant in this case,” Ryan said in his report. “Once an individual initiates a deadly force confrontation, a law enforcement officer does not have to wait to be shot/shot at before reacting.”
Ryan said the task force members’ use of deadly force at that point was “reasonable and justified,” according to WCCO.
Attorneys for a woman who was in the SUV with Smith when he was shot said she claimed she never saw him with a weapon and that he was raising his cell phone when he was shot.
But she also said that Smith told her during the incident that he wasn’t going back to jail and that he was going to die, WCCO reported.
A search warrant affidavit said that a Smith and Wesson M&P 380 pistol was recovered from the driver’s side of the SUV and six casings found inside the vehicle matched the handgun.
An affidavit filed in Hennepin County District Court showed that investigators recovered 15 shell casings from police firearms outside the SUV Smith was sitting in, WCCO reported.
There was no bodycam or dashcam video of the shooting because USMS doesn’t use them.
“In Minnesota, the Marshals office has refused to allow us to wear body cameras since the advent of the technology and any new policy has not been implemented,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said in a statement after the shooting to explain why his deputies on the task force weren’t wearing their department’s bodycams.
Sheriff Fletcher and Hennepin County Sheriff David P. Hutchinson have since removed their deputies from the USMS task force until they implement a policy requiring bodycams, WCCO reported.