Steps away from where North Little Rock police shot and killed 17-year-old Charles Smith a day earlier, his mother stood with family on Monday and described her son as a teenager eager to graduate high school.
"I never would have thought it would be my baby. He was nothing but 17 -- he wanted to graduate," said his mother, Crystal Irvin, as dozens gathered near the intersection of Camp Robinson Road and East 52nd Street.
It was there, outside the Church of Christ Levy in North Little Rock, that authorities say Smith was fatally shot by police early Sunday.
"I never, in a million years, would think the North Little Rock police [would kill] my baby," she said.
More than 100 people -- friends, classmates, family and supporters -- gathered for a vigil near the intersection Monday evening as cars on Camp Robinson Road moved slowly past the gathering. Classmates and family described Smith as a fun-loving teenager who almost always wore a smile.
Officers initiated a traffic stop at the intersection on a vehicle with three people in it, according to a news release from the North Little Rock Police Department. The department did not reveal the reason for the traffic stop.
The release said police found a gun on Smith during a pat-down search and a struggle ensued between the officers and Smith.
According to the release, Smith "fired at least one shot at the officers which resulted in the officers firing shots" at the teenager. He died at the scene.
Sgt. Brian Dedrick, a North Little Rock police spokesman, said Monday that the department has placed three officers on administrative leave. He did not identify the officers nor say how many officers fired their weapons during the incident.
Dedrick previously said in an email that the department would conduct a criminal investigation into its officers' decision to use deadly force.
The agency is one of a handful of mostly large departments in Arkansas that elect to conduct in-house criminal investigations of deadly force encounters. The majority of departments request outside agencies -- usually the Arkansas State Police -- to investigate those incidents.
Dedrick said Monday evening that the department had not yet conducted interviews with the officers.
"We normally wait a couple of days," he said.
Kelly Rodgers, North Little Rock school superintendent, said Smith was a senior at North Little Rock High School and grief counselors were brought into the school on Monday. He also added that the school held a moment of silence for Smith.
Smith's cousin, Doman--ique Townsend, said the teenager was always smiling and liked to rap.
Townsend said she still has a lot of questions about the incident and said police went "too far."
"It didn't need to end like that," she said.
Information for this report was provided by Hunter Field of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 01/09/2018
Print Headline: Teen wanted to graduate, mother says; NLR officers involved in traffic-stop killing await interviews, police say