The family of the man gunned down by two sheriff’s deputies in Minneapolis on Thursday tearfully pleaded for transparency and defended his character and story.
Although authorities did not immediately release the man’s name, his family and friends identified him as Winston Smith Jr., a 32-year-old father of three.
At a press conference on Friday, Smith’s sister Tieshia Floyd said her brother’s reputation had been tainted and past mistakes he made did not justify his death.
“My brother was nice,” she says. “No, he wasn’t perfect. None of us are. He was trying to turn a new leaf but they took that away from him.”
“I love my brother and I just don’t want the world to judge him for what’s going on there,” she added. “I will protect my brother’s name until justice is done.”
Speakers also called on anyone with images of the shooting on their mobile phone to share them.
No video footage of the incident was shown. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation, said there was no footage captured by the team’s cameras and that the US Marshals Service did not allow body cameras for officers on this. work group.
Minnesota Justice Coalition Chairman Johnathon McClellan questioned why police wouldn’t want to release footage if they felt their actions were justified, saying law enforcement might have something to hide.
“It is important that we have transparency and accountability,” McClellan said at the press conference.
“We also challenge those task forces that produce cowboy cops who make their own rules and circumvent best practices, lack proper oversight, and display patterns and practices that terrorize and neither protect nor serve,” he added.
Two sheriff’s deputies – one from Hennepin County and one from Ramsey County – were involved in the shooting, according to the BCA.
In a statement sent to USA TODAY, the US Marshals Service said its task force was trying to arrest the man under a warrant for illegal possession of a firearm. They said the man “did not obey the orders of the officers” and “produced a handgun, which prompted members of the task force to shoot the matter,” the statement said.
Smith’s loved ones remembered him as a comedian who wrote comedy skits for social media and as a father who never missed a birthday party or an opportunity to hang out with his children.
“He’s a character,” her mother, Tijuana Wilson, said at the press conference. “He’s a funny person. And it’s a shame they keep killing our young black people.”
“He will be missed,” she continued.
Representative John Thompson said he was fed up with black men in his state being killed by police and called for police reform and reinvestment of resources in community organizations. He said he knew, “There will be another black man dead here in the state of Minnesota this year unless our lawmakers take it upon themselves … to pass meaningful legislation here in this state regarding police reform “.
“We could have done something when George Floyd was assassinated,” Thompson said. “We could have done something that Daunte Wright was murdered. How many people have to die until we say we have a police problem not just in this state but all over the United States of America?”
Protesters demanded transparency for the second night of protests on Friday night. As night fell, lines of officers stood guard near the dumpster fires in the street.
Minneapolis has been on the alert since the death last year of George Floyd, a black man who was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in April of murder and manslaughter. Protests also followed the fatal police shootout against black motorist Daunte Wright in the nearby Brooklyn Center suburb in April.
Ahead of Thursday’s shooting, tensions mounted as teams removed concrete barriers around a Minneapolis intersection unofficially known as George Floyd Square, where community members and activists left artwork and flowers in a memorial to Floyd.
Contribution: The Associated Press
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