Charges will not be issued against the officers involved in the shooting of Winston Smith, county attorneys say. The incident that killed Smith was ruled a justified use of deadly force, calling the conduct of the U.S. Marshals involved in attempting to apprehend Smith “reasonable and justified.”

As reported by The Minnesota Sun, U.S. Marshals shot and killed Smith in early June after he failed to comply with their orders as they were attempting to apprehend him due to a warrant out for his arrest.

As reported by The Sun, “Winston Smith, a Black man, had a warrant out for his arrest after failing to appear in court for a probation violation hearing, which would have sent him to prison. He was on probation for 1st degree aggravated robbery. Smith had a total of 19 prior criminal, traffic, and petty convictions.”

Donald Ryan, the Crow Wing County attorney who was investigating the incident, said that based on the evidence, he believes that the U.S. Marshals Task Force was “properly exercising its lawful authority to apprehend Winston Smith (Smith) on the Ramsey County felony warrant.”

Ryan said after a review of the situation, the evidence shows that Smith “initiated a deadly force confrontation” with the U.S. Marshals. Ryan explained, “Once an individual initiates a deadly force confrontation a law enforcement officer does not have to wait to be shot/shot at before reacting.”

He said that while he was “unable to determine who fired first,” he believes that specific detail to be “irrelevant” to the case. He said that the conduct of the two Marshals directly involved was “clearly in response to an apparent threat of death or great bodily harm,” calling their reaction “reasonable and justified.”

As reported by The Sun, “The shooting [of Smith] happened in a parking ramp in Minneapolis at Lake Street and Girard Avenue. The Pioneer Press reported that the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force were involved in trying to apprehend him. After Smith failed to comply with instructions from law enforcement and drew a handgun, officers fired upon him. The officers attempted to resuscitate Smith, but he died at the ramp where the shooting took place.”

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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to hayley@volente.biz.
Photo “Winston Smith” by Chad Davis. CC BY 2.0.