Woman in car with Winston Smith during police shooting filing civil rights lawsuit

The attorney for a woman who was in the car with Winston Smith, who was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies last month, says Smith started a Facebook Live video and raised his phone before he was shot. 

The attorney also announced he is filing a lawsuit alleging a violation of her civil rights. 

Attorney Christopher Nguyen is holding a news conference about the lawsuit Thursday afternoon. 

In his remarks, Nguyen says his client, Norhan Askar, was on a date with Smith in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. When the two got back to Smith’s car, the attorney says officers who were not in uniform approached the two and failed to announce themselves as law enforcement. 

In his remarks, Nguyen said, "Law enforcement has a duty to announce themselves and the selection of undercover officers to execute a warrant knowing they are required to announce themselves is a clear display of incompetence."

Nguyen said Smith began to Facebook Live from his phone and as he raised the phone, the woman heard gunfire and saw Smith slump over. When FOX 9 asked the the Facebook Live video, an official said the BCA could not discuss an active investigation.

Nguyen says Askar was handcuffed and put in an ambulance. He claims she suffered injuries from the broken windshield that shattered due to the gunfire. He says his client is still picking the glass out of her skin. 

Nguyen also alleges the BCA failed to take gunshot residue samples from Smith’s body, which he claims would "exonerate" Smith from any wrongdoing. In a statement, the BCA told FOX 9 that the medical examiner determines what tests to conduct during an autopsy, not the BCA. 

In a statement to FOX 9 Thursday, the BCA said it does not typically conduct gunshot residue testing because it does not provide "conclusive evidence." 

Here is the full statement: 

The BCA didn’t request GSR it in this case and the BCA lab doesn’t do GSR testing because it does not provide conclusive evidence about whether or when an individual fired or handled a gun. In a situation like this where guns were fired from inside and outside the vehicle in close proximity we would not be able to determine which gun the GSR came from. The BCA is conducting DNA testing and other pertinent examinations on the guns in this case.

We’ve been in contact with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner and they only do GSR collection at the request of law enforcement agencies.

The shooting

Winston Boogie Smith, as identified by family and friends, was shot by a Ramsey County deputy and a Hennepin County deputy during an encounter on the top floor of the parking garage in the 1400 block of Lake Street on June 3, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. A U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force was attempting to arrest Smith, 32, for a warrant on a felony firearms violation when the incident occurred.

BCA investigators say there is evidence showing that Smith fired his gun from inside the vehicle and spent casings were found on the driver's side. However, there is no body camera footage or squad dash cam footage of the incident. The BCA says members of the task force weren't allowed to wear body cameras – despite a change in policy at the federal level allowing for the use of the cameras by officers and deputies on a task force.

At the same time, social media postings seem to show Smith was prepared for a confrontation with police.

An internal document from law enforcement quotes Smith as saying he'd "shoot it out" if he was ever pulled off by law enforcement.