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story.lead_photo.caption This screenshot from a North Little Rock Police Department video shows officers struggling with a teen gunman before he was fatally shot.

The North Little Police Department on Wednesday released footage showing the fatal shooting of a teenage gunman by officers after a struggle.

Police Chief Mike Davis said during a news conference that the release of dashboard-camera video footage from the scene was deemed necessary after a “great deal of misinformation” spread on social media.

“I fear that misinformation gets out that says the subject wasn’t armed, that the subject didn’t shoot,” he said, adding “that is not the case.”

Davis shared little new information regarding the ongoing investigation during the news conference at the agency’s training building.

On Sunday, officers initiated a traffic stop shortly after 1 a.m. near the intersection of 52nd Street and Camp Robinson Road, according to police.

[RELATED STORY: Teen was breaking curfew when stopped by police]

WARNING: Video contains sensitive content

Note: The edits to the video, including the pauses and red circles, were added by the North Little Rock Police Department.

The vehicle had been traveling an an “excessive speed” and had a headlight that wasn't functioning properly, Davis said.

The chief said responding officers expressed concern over the “nervousness” of the driver while speaking with him. Three people inside the car, including its driver, were asked to step out in the minutes that followed, the footage shows.

Authorities said a gun and a small bag containing marijuana was found on one of the occupants — 17-year-old Charles Smith Jr. — during a pat-down search. A stolen firearm was also later found on the driver’s-side floorboard.

“As officers continued to pat him down, Smith attempted to gain control of a handgun and flee, at which time he was taken to the ground,” Davis said.

Officers tried to subdue Smith using a stun gun but were unsuccessful, said Sgt. Brian Dedrick, a Police Department spokesman. He did not say how many attempts were made.

A struggle ensued around 1:15 a.m., and Smith eventually pulled out the weapon from his waistband and fired one shot that almost struck the other two occupants nearby outside, according to police.

“[Smith] is then observed engaging the slide back on the gun and again firing at officers, almost striking one officer in the face,” the chief said.

That resulted in three officers firing shots at Smith less than a minute later, the video showed. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

“No officer wants to be put in this position, but these officers were left with no other choice but to protect their lives and return fire,” Davis said.

He added that an investigation into the shooting should be completed “very soon.” Findings will then be submitted to the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney’s office for review regarding whether deadly force was justified.

The North Little Rock Police Department — one of a handful of mostly large departments in Arkansas that elect to conduct in-house criminal investigations of such encounters — is conducting that investigation.

A separate internal probe is also expected into whether department protocol was followed, according to police.

A lawyer for Smith's family, Willard Proctor Jr., said police showed the video to the teenager's relatives earlier Wednesday.

"We're not at a point where we can make any conclusions," Proctor said. He said that once a complete set of video footage is released, there could be an opportunity to look into "what, if anything, could have been done differently."

Davis said the officers involved did not have body cameras. He said the names of the officers involved could be released after a plan is in place to protect them, since the agency has received threats.

"Misinformation gets out that says ... the subject wasn't armed, the subject didn't shoot," Davis said. "He was armed and we, in fact, had to take action because of that. I want people to see what happened."

During Wednesday’s news conference, Davis advised media outlets to “exercise discretion” regarding the release of footage to the public. Live streaming and recording of the video was not allowed. Instead, copies were provided to reporters for review.

Read Thursday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Photo by Brandon Riddle
North Little Rock Police Chief Mike Davis speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, regarding the release of footage from a fatal officer-involved shooting earlier that week.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Hunter Field and The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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Archived Comments

  • Whippersnapper
    January 10, 2018 at 1:18 p.m.

    "Why did they shoot him 5 times?"
    Because once someone pulls a gun and fires, officers are trained to shoot until they think the threat is over. A trained officer can fire several bullets every second, which means (and the video backs this up) that they started shooting and stopped shooting within a couple of seconds. The real question in most cases would likely be "Why did they ONLY shoot him 5 times?"

  • FrFredBall
    January 10, 2018 at 1:25 p.m.

    — "Who cares", you ask — that's part of the problem. Not enough of us care.

    — I'm sure he did make poor decisions. I'm also sure that he was encouraged to make those decisions by the culture we live in and support. We have a bigger problem that someone doing "a poor job raising him" — I know too many people who have done their best, been responsible, tried everything they could, yet have still seen their children swept up by this society that doesn't care about kids like this. We keep them at the margins. We cage them. We make their lives intolerable. We press them until they break.

    — This young man was probably guilty. So am I, as I continue to be complicit in supporting structures that make him want to carry a gun and so fear going to jail that he will confront police officers in a struggle he should rationally know he can't win. But this isn't about rationality, is it? It's about a daily struggle against a world where he had no place and probably thought he had few options. I don't know the particulars of this young man's story, and it's hard to grasp from my perspective of extreme privilege, but I wept as I watched this video. I know I have to learn what I can do to change things.

  • DoWhat
    January 10, 2018 at 2 p.m.

    FredBall....your comment is part of the problem. Until the black community starts holding themselves responsible rather than police and society the problem will fester.....

  • candykrn
    January 10, 2018 at 2:01 p.m.

    Thank you FrFredBall. I agree.

  • Redbaron23
    January 10, 2018 at 2:06 p.m.

    It appears that the shooting of the officers was justified. I don’t agree with the statements that the parents did a lousy job raising him though. You can be raised under the greatest supervision and still make bad decisions. I was always taught, if you don’t have anything good to say, then you probably shouldn’t say anything. Some people love to state opinions like they’re facts on topics like these and blame the parents for not raising the kids properly when honestly you have no proof of how the parents did. Shooting appeared justified but how the kid was raised was not pictured in the video. Asa Hutchinson son has made some bad choices and I would assume that the decisions the son made were not indicative on how the governor raised him

  • webhog
    January 10, 2018 at 2:08 p.m.

    Kids need to learn what will happen if they try to shoot a police officer. That was plain stupid.

  • cableguy
    January 10, 2018 at 2:33 p.m.

    The police had no choice but to shoot. The attitude of the police officers before shooting was very relaxed. I've been pulled over by the LRPD and Pulaski County Sheriff and the interaction was more tense these NLR officers. BLM won't be protesting this shooting. I know some of you Rush Limbaugh worshippers will put that false message out.

  • abb
    January 10, 2018 at 2:37 p.m.

    The boy went out at night
    Gun and drugs and fight
    Then the boy tried to kill men
    And the family blamed them
    Then forced to punch his light.

  • drs01
    January 10, 2018 at 3:01 p.m.

    A 17 year old out at 1am on a Sunday night? Does anybody go to school anymore? Do parents know or even give a crap where their CHILDREN are at this time of night?
    FrFredBall can't be allowed to beat himself up over something that can be traced back to the HOME ENVIRONMENT.

  • Tigermule
    January 10, 2018 at 3:27 p.m.

    The police handled the situation correctly. The fault lies entirely with the deceased.