Activists demand justice, independent investigation for Winston Smith

MSR file photo Brandyn Tulloch speaking at Monday’s press conference

Activists gathered Monday to call on Gov. Tim Walz to launch an independent investigation into the June 3 shooting death of Winston Boogie Smith by U.S. Marshal and Ramsey and Hennepin County deputies in Uptown Minneapolis.

One of the speakers at the press conference pointed out that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has proven itself to be incompetent in several cases, which raised the demand for the case to be taken out of the hands of the agency’s hands. For example, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has recently announced it is looking into re-opening the case of Terrence Franklin after questioning the BCA’s findings in that case.

The law enforcement agency was also exposed as sloppy and careless with evidence during the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

Norhan Askar, the only civilian witness to the Smith killing has called two press conferences with her lawyers to reiterate that she never saw a gun in Smith’s car or in his possession at any time. Askar was on a date with Smith and they were sitting in an SUV in an Uptown Minneapolis parking ramp across from Stella’s Fish House when according to her, they were surrounded by vehicles and then men with guns drawn.

Askar spoke through her lawyers Christopher Nguyen and Racey Rodne, who released a statement on her behalf.

The attorneys said Askar met Smith, 32, through mutual friends and they had been dating for several weeks. They went to a restaurant for lunch and drinks, walked back to Smith’s SUV, got inside, “and were suddenly surrounded by unmarked cars and people with guns.

“These people were dressed in neither sheriff nor peace officer uniforms. They yelled commands and did not announce themselves as law enforcement of any kind,” the attorneys said. “While yelling commands for them to put their hands up, multiple armed people targeted their weapons upon her and Mr. Smith.”

Askar’s attorneys said that she was “scared for her life” and complied with the cops’ orders. They also said their client was pulled out of the SUV and placed in handcuffs and in the back of an unmarked car. She was given medical attention for cuts she sustained during the shooting. The attorneys said that she told them that an officer asked her “how her date was.”

“As he raised the phone, all she could hear was gunfire and saw Winston Smith slump over,” said the attorneys.

Askar’s attorneys said they are filing a lawsuit alleging that Askar’s civil rights were violated. “We should be able to see everything you do and hear everything you say. If you say you are protecting and serving the community as you say, why isn’t the community let in on decisions? Why are cowboy cops in a task force just out roaming the streets,” said activist Brandyn Tulloch.

“We want the cops held accountable. The BCA is very good at cover-up. We can’t have cops investigating cops. They are not on our side. The cops are on the side of law enforcement. These people have ties to the U.S. Marshals to the Minneapolis Police Department and you think they are going to hold these people accountable? It doesn’t make rational sense,” said Tulloch.

 “The BCA is not incompetent; they have been covering up for the police for years,” said Toshira Garraway of Families Supporting Families against Police Violence. “This man was executed,” she said, pointing out that she thought there was some pre-meditation in the shooting, since there was no video in their vehicles or body cameras on any law enforcement officers and that there seemed to be no real effort at apprehension since according to Askar, the police did not identify themselves.

The BCA and the U.S. Marshals Service have not provided any updated information. But the BCA continues to maintain that Smith had a gun and fired at officers causing them to return fire.