• Homeless Union of GSO

Flint Taylor, People's Law Firm & Graham Holt Sue Greensboro - Homicide Death of Marcus Deon Smith

Family of Marcus Deon Smith; Kimberly Suber (sister), Mary and George Smith (Parents) - Photo by Triad City Beat

The Family of Marcus Deon Smith, 38, a beloved member of the Greensboro Community who was killed by Greensboro Police on September 8th, 2018, sued the City of Greensboro, the individual officers involved in the homicide death, the 2 EMT workers on the scene, and Guilford County under federal Civil Rights law in the 4th District (Middle District of North Carolina) on April 10th, 2019.

Marcus Deon Smith was experiencing homelessness at the time of his death. Zalonda Woods, an organizer with the Homeless Union of Greensboro, who have been supportive of the family since the killing of their son, said, "He was poor, homeless and black. Those are the three scariest things to be in America today. You get targeted for simply existing."

Marcus Smith was having a mental health crisis when he was approached by Greensboro Police officers. He asked them for help, but instead of taking him to the hospital, they hogtied him using a RIPP HOBBLE device and he died as a result. The State Medical Examiner's Office called the death a homicide, but no officers have been held accountable for his death.

The manufacturer of the RIPP HOBBLE device warns, "Never Hogtie a Prisoner" on the informational pamphlet that comes with the device (You can use the device to link a persons hand and legs together in front of their body rather than behind their back).

Greensboro's own Police Policy Directives Manual, section 11.1 also barrs the use of the Hogtie Restraint in the manner which the police used it. (Officers are never to bend the knees past 90 degrees and should never use the device unless the person can be seated upright.)

The lawsuit charges that “defendants, acting jointly and in conspiracy and under the color of state law, deprived decedent of rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including those secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, by among other things, subjecting decedent to unreasonable and excessive force and/or directing, encouraging and implementing the use of unreasonable and excessive force, and/or failing to intervene on his behalf to stop the unreasonable and excessive force having the duty and opportunity to do so; and/or unreasonably failing to promptly attend to his severe medical needs.”

In addition to the city of Greensboro and Guilford County, the suit names police officers Justin Payne, Robert Duncan, Michael Montalvo, Alfred Lewis, Christopher Bradshaw, Lee Andrews, Douglas Strader and Jordan Bailey as defendants, along with Guilford County paramedic Ashley Abbott and EMT Dylan Alling.

The suit also alleges that the city violated Smith’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by “fail[ing] and refus[ing] to reasonably accommodate [his] mental health disabilities and to modify their operations, services, accommodations and programs to reasonably accommodate Marcus’ disabilities.”

The suit also claims that the police department attempted to cover up the cause of Smith’s death by misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“The same day Marcus was killed, the GPD issued a press release that contained misinformation, lies, and omissions, stating that Marcus collapsed while he was in police custody (he did not), that he was combative (he was not), that officers rendered aid (they did not), that he died at the hospital (he died face down in the street), and blatantly omitting that Marcus was taken to the ground by the police and forcibly restrained and hogtied,” the complaint says.

Smith’s family is represented by Graham Holt, a local lawyer who has represented many victims of police violence, along with Flint Taylor, Ben Elson and Christian Snow of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. Taylor represented plaintiffs seeking redress in the 1969 murder of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton by the Chicago police, and was also part of the legal team that won a wrongful death civil suit against the city of Greensboro and members of the Ku Klux Klan in the aftermath of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre. Taylor appeared at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro April 9th, 2019 to talk about his book The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.

The suit continues:

“Defendant city of Greensboro and its police department have a long history of racist police violence and misconduct and deliberate indifference,” the lawsuit alleges, “including, most recently, the targeting of African Americans for, among other things, driving while black and being downtown while black, and the accompanying use of force, violence, false charges, perjury, and coverup by superiors using the professional standards division, the chief of police, the city manager, the city attorney, and the city council to condone and ratify police misconduct, which causes Greensboro police officers, such as the officers in this case, to believe that they can abuse African-American citizens with impunity and with no fear of consequences.”

Read the Complaint Here: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/03c5ff_404f99afbc914cc0b85bff0e8fcc6e41.pdf

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