Winston Smith’s family demands justice, answers
“He was trying to live his life,” is how Winston “Boogie” Smith’s brother Kidale Smith described his sibling at a press conference on Friday afternoon in the Uptown area near Girard Avenue and Lake Street South near where Smith was shot and killed on Thursday afternoon.
“We want these cops to go to jail. They shot him execution-style. He was on a date in a public place. I want everybody—the sheriff’s deputies, the U.S. Marshals—everybody that was involved in my brother’s death to be prosecuted,” said Smith.
It was rumored and confirmed on the social media platform Snapchat that Winton Smith had been dining in a restaurant nearby with an unidentified woman only minutes before he was killed.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in a strangely worded press release, gave its preliminary report of what happened. They wrote, “According to the preliminary investigation, at one point a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy and a Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy serving on the [U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force] discharged their weapons, striking the man. He was pronounced deceased at the scene. Evidence at the scene indicates that the man fired his weapon from inside the vehicle. BCA crime scene personnel recovered a handgun as well as spent cartridge cases from inside the driver’s compartment.”
Presumably, the narrative would have read law enforcement tried to apprehend a suspect, he resisted by attempting to shoot at law enforcement who returned fire killing him.
But the release does not provide that narrative, which casts suspicions about what really happened, especially considering police were not wearing body cameras. The release also stated that “the U.S Marshal Service currently does not allow the use of body cameras for officers serving on its North Star Fugitive Task Force.”
However, that is not true. The U.S. Marshal Service does allow local and state law enforcement that accompanies them on raids to wear body cameras. The U.S. Justice Department made a ruling on this last fall, which would have allowed Ramsey and Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputies to have worn body cameras.
Family members and friends also demanded that police release all surveillance video from the parking garage and nearby restaurants.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the shooting, but public confidence in local law enforcement and the BCA has waned in the wake of numerous police shootings in the Twin Cities.
“He was like a brother to me,” said Waylon Hughes, who appeared in Uptown to talk to the press before the official conference began. Hughes said Smith has three kids. He reiterated that Smith was not a murder suspect and that he didn’t know Smith to carry a gun. Hughes said the woman in the vehicle had been shot as well. It was assumed that she was in police custody, but friends who attended the press conference said she had been released.
“He was a funny guy; he was a comedian. He went live all the time. He did viral videos. He was always working on skits,” recalled Hughes. “He wasn’t a fighter at all; he ran from confrontation.”
Onlookers who had gathered Thursday afternoon following the shooting gave way to a larger group by nightfall. A flurry of looting and vandalism of stores took place in the Uptown area late into the night. The MPD reported that nine people were arrested Friday morning related to the unrest. Mayor Jacob Frey said in a Friday afternoon press conference that more law enforcement will patrol the area throughout the weekend.
A vigil is planned for Smith at 8 pm tonight at the intersection of Girard and Lake.
The MSR will continue to follow this story as it develops.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.