first published on February 21, 2018 by Will
Newly released police body cam footage shows a fatal officer involved shooting of a suspect following a vehicle pursuit.
The event took place on November 28th, 2017 in Brookfield Township, Michigan. The deputy and a detective were serving a search warrant and felony arrest warrant for Robert Claude Smith, 64, at the suspect’s home.
The police were carrying out the warrants because two days prior, Smith had been pulled over by a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer for Driving Under the Influence and a gun was discovered in Smith’s possession. Smith was previously convicted of a felony, and was unable to legally possess and firearm.
During that encounter with DNR officers, Smith made comments that he was not afraid to commit gun violence, and also claimed he had nothing to lose.
Eaton County Sheriff’s attempt to execute the warrants turned into a vehicle pursuit as Smith fled the scene, leading the deputy and detective on a chase through the rural countryside.
As seen in the video, the suspect begins to slow down and then stops. The deputy steps out of his vehicle, gun drawn, and tells Smith to turn his vehicle off.
Instead, Smith begins wildly turning around and then charges toward the deputy’s squad car. The deputy foresees the impending collision and distances himself from his vehicle. Just as Smith is about to ram the patrol car, the deputy open fires on the suspect.
Smith’s truck crashes hard into the squad car and pushes it back several feet. The squad is pushed into the detective’s vehicle, which the detective was using as cover. The collision knocks the detective down, giving him minor injuries. He gets up and open fires on Smith as well.
Smith is wounded badly at that point, possibly even killed, but his foot is still pressing the accelerator and the suspect’s truck continues to rev and spin out. Smith succumbed to a fatal gunshot wound to his head, and the coroners showed he had a blood alcohol level of .19, over twice the legal limit.
Following an investigation, the officers were found to have acted lawfully. Sheriff Tom Reich said the officers “acted with the only reasonable means available to avert a reasonable threat of death and/or serious bodily injury.” Although Smith wasn’t armed with a firearm at the time of the incident, there was no way the officers could have known that, and he was also using his vehicle as a weapon.