Questions about fatal shooting by Chicago police
November 19, 2006 (WLS) -- There are questions about a weekend shooting involving a Chicago police officer on the city's South Side. Investigators say Michael Smith was shot and killed after he allegedly lunged for an officer's gun. But some witnesses and relatives say that's not what happened. They want the officer who fired the shot charged with murder.
Police say a preliminary investigation indicates the officer involved was justified in his actions. Michael Smith's family disagrees. They say because they questioned the actions of the officers, they've been harassed by police. Something the department denies.
There is no forgiveness here. Only anger over the death of Michael Smith. A death his family says came unjustly at the hands of a Chicago police officer. "Why did Michael have to die? He didn't," said Arnez Thornton, Smith's uncle.
The 22 year old father of two died Saturday afternoon after investigators say he got into a struggle with a police officer over a gun.
"He would not fight the police. He wouldn't reach for them. He wouldn't be disrespectful, never," said Enobia Davis, Smith's mother.
At least one gunshot rang out after tactical officers responded to information that an individual wanted for a robbery was hanging out with two other people in front of a store near the corner of 63rd and Evans.
Investigators say the two officers arrived at the scene and found three men at that location. Detectives say when the officers ordered the men to take their hands out of their pockets, two complied but Smith refused.
Investigators say after the officers warned Smith two more times to take his hands out of his pockets, one of the officers pulled out his service revolver. A struggle between Smith and the officer ensued and authorities say that's when, in fear of his life, the officer shot Smith.
Demetrius Poney was one of the other men approached by the officers. He says the police accounts aren't true. Poney says both officers were dressed in street clothes and had their guns already drawn when they walked up to him and his friends. He says they never identified themselves as police officers.
"When he approached, he didn't say freeze, he didn't say police, he didn't say nothing. He grabbed him, pulled him towards the gun and he popped him," Poney said.
Another man who says he witnessed the incident supports Poney's version but asked ABC7 not show his face because he's afraid of retaliation by police.
"They grabbed him, just shoot him. That's when the rest of them run in the store," he said.
Smith later died of a gunshot wound to the stomach. It is still unclear if Smith was the man originally suspected of robbery. What is clear is Michael's family doesn't want his death to be in vein. Smith's family is considering filing a complaint against the officers. They may also file a federal lawsuit against the police department and the city of Chicago for violation of Michael Smith's civil rights.
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