Winston Smith’s brother questions federal task force’s tactics in his death

The brother of Winston Smith, the man shot and killed in a Minneapolis parking ramp by two officers acting as part of a federal task force, says officers should have used a different approach to take Smith into custody.

A report released Monday by the Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, the prosecutor asked to review the Minnesota Bauru of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation of the case, stated that officers involved in the killing will not face charges.

Kidale Smith says he was disappointed by that finding and thinks there are still holes in the case.

One question he has is why law enforcement officers chose to let Smith return to his vehicle if they thought he could have a firearm.

"Don’t let him get into his car where there may or may not be some potential danger there," Kidale said.

According to the report from the Crow Wing County Attorney, law enforcement officers had been following Smith after learning through social media that he was at a restaurant in Minneapolis. The report states that members of the task force followed him from the rooftop of the restaurant, across the street, to the top floor of the parking ramp waiting to approach him once he was inside his vehicle.

The report states members of the taskforce chose this approach to "mitigate the risk to the general public."

"You think it would be safer for him to get into his car where you think there might be something in there? I find that really strange," Kidale said.

Kidale also points out that the Crow Wing County Attorney could not determine when Smith may have fired shots, only that cases were recovered inside of his vehicle and officers found bullet holes from inside the car pointing out.

"It never actually states at any time in here that he fired his gun," Kidale says.

In the report, Ryan states that he can’t determine who may have fired first, but says that is "irrelevant to the case." He goes on to say "once an individual initiates a deadly force confrontation, a law enforcement officer does not have to wait to be shot/shot at before reacting."

The report also mentions comments made by the woman who was inside Smith’s car at the time of the shooting, which were captured on a body camera. The BCA says there is no video footage of the actual incident, but Minneapolis police officers who responded after the fact did have body cameras rolling. 

FOX9 requested that footage but was told it won’t be made public until the BCA has finished reviewing the file. Kidale says he would like to see that video, too.

"I want to see the shell casings, we want to see the car that they’re claiming has the bullet holes in it from the inside and all these directions, and we want those statements from those officers," Kidale says.