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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

  • titleist10
    January 10, 2018 at 4:17 p.m.

    It seems as though a lot of black teens are not being taught how to get along in a civilized society this I believe is due to the lack of family units in the black community these kids are raised on the street police had every right to defend themselves once he fired COMPLY AND STAY ALIVE

  • joedog
    January 10, 2018 at 4:47 p.m.

    1. Race has nothing to do with what happens to a person after that person fires a pistol from close range at armed police officers attempting to arrest the person.

    2. Race has everything to do with the decisions this (now) dead boy made which lead up to him firing a pistol at armed police officers at close range.

    3. The boy made a choice from his options. What were his options? A discussion of the boy’s social options, educational options, and employment options might help explain the boy’s terrible decision.

    Why was he still out at that hour? Why did he have a gun? Who were the strongest influences in his life. All good questions. Young people being shot dead is much too commonplace. We already know many of the answers.

  • 1netime4lyfe
    January 10, 2018 at 4:48 p.m.

    Y’all have all of these things to say about this situation that has occurred what you fail to realize is the pain and agony you would go through if that was your child

  • LR1955
    January 10, 2018 at 4:54 p.m.

    Actually this happened at the 1:11am Sunday morning. The only school on that day would be Sunday School.
    And I’m totally amazed at how easy going the talking officer was. He sounded like a nice guy & gave them each the opportunity to give up peacefully anything they might have on them or stashed. Instead the deceased made a real bad decision to try & shoot it out. RIP kid.

  • Penningtony
    January 10, 2018 at 5:05 p.m.

    Do What...quit stereotyping the entire black community. The overwhelmingly vast majority of black citizens DO raise their children right and teach them to respect the police. Every time something happens with a black person, the entire race gets indicted. I don't know what made this kid pull a gun on a cop, I don't know how he was raised...and neither do you. My brother worked in law enforcement for over 25 years and he can tell you about kids of ALL races who grew up in good homes and still turned out bad. So please quit making sweeping statements about a race when you don't have a clue as to what you're talking about.

  • GeneralMac
    January 10, 2018 at 5:06 p.m.

    1nettyme4life............"if that was your child"

    I don't have to worry as none of my kids would try to shoot a cop.

  • hah406
    January 10, 2018 at 5:11 p.m.

    Now people are out on the street in NLR protesting? Protesting WHAT? This wasn't racial. This wasn't unjustified. This was a felony traffic stop where one young occupant of the vehicle made A CHOICE not to comply with the directions of the officers. Then he made A CHOICE to try to shoot or kill the officers. Those CHOICES resulted in his death. Nothing more, nothing less. As titleist10 said, COMPLY AND STAY ALIVE.

  • Inquirer51
    January 10, 2018 at 5:23 p.m.

    The North Little Rock Police Department did the right thing in releasing the video. I don't see any way the video could have been doctored. It clearly shows that the police tried to subdue Mr. Smith and remove the gun from him before they started shooting. The video clearly shows that one of the officers tried to taser the suspect. The officers did not shoot Mr. Smith until after he fired a shot at them. I don't believe any reasonable person can say the police overreacted.

    If Charles Smith, Jr., had just told the police he had a pistol (or 2) in the car, and handed them over, he would probably just have been charged with a misdemeanor and received a fine, suspended sentence, and maybe some community service. If he quit after "tussling" with the police, he would be charged with resisting arrest and maybe 2nd degree battery for striking an officer. Once Charles Smith, Jr., fired a shot, his fate was sealed.

    I don't accept the idea that he did what he did because of limited opportunities for young African Americans. According to multiple sources, Smith was going to graduate from high school this spring. He could have still done so if he had cooperated with the police. It's apparent to me the police didn't want to kill him. Society didn't make him have a pistol or shoot at the police. Maybe Charles Smith, Jr., could have gone to college or learned a trade and made something of himself. We'll never know.

  • reality1963
    January 10, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

    As has become the norm, the criminal's friends and family, blame police, talk BS, insinuate race was an issue ..... no the damn fool punk tried to kill an officer of the law, who treated him with nothing but respect. Wonder if Satan has taught him how to shoot, yet, or just laughing at him?

  • DoWhat
    January 10, 2018 at 5:35 p.m.

    penningtony.....just look at crime statistics.......