The Austin Police Department, a department with a history of using excessive force, shot bean bag rounds at 20-year-old Devon Smith after he surrendered to a SWAT team with his hands up Friday night.
Police claim Smith had a knife and posed a danger to officers. But the video tells a different story.
In the video, Smith is seen walking out of the house with his hands up. The video clearly shows his hands empty as he holds them in the air. A few seconds pass, Smith continues holding his hands in the air and bean bag shots are fired. Smith can then be seen rolling around in pain as the officers then come over and stomp on him.
The crowd responds by saying, “that’s bullshit.” The video is posted below.
Police say he attempted to stab an officer in the head with a knife and that a second knife was later found in Smith’s pocket.
But no knife can be seen in the video and it’s likely Smith never actually stabbed an officer being that no officer’s head was near Smith while he squirmed in agony from the bean bag shots. It’s also likely he didn’t know he had been shot by bean bags, and instead thought he was shot by bullets.
Police told KEYE the following:
“You have to take into consideration they didn’t see what the officer saw, when the guy went to the ground they didn’t see the knife, they didn’t see from their perspective, all they are seeing is us impacting him,” Lt. Pruitt said.
Police said Smith allegedly tried to stab an officer in the head three times as they attempted to take him into custody. The officer was not injured because the blows hit his metal helmet.
They also claim that Smith had a warrant and just didn’t want to be arrested. Smith is now charged with attempted capitol murder for attacking an officer with a knife despite the video showing he did no such thing.
Police say Smith barricaded himself in the house after being suspected for committing a burglary.
According to MyFoxAustin, Smith had two warrants; one for obstructing police and one for a probation violation for evading arrest. He will also be charged with burglary.
“I’ve seen the damage to the helmet and it’s a bullet resistive helmet and there’s damage to it. So, the intent was there,” said Pruitt.
It’s important to note, however, that if that is the case, Smith could have been discombobulated and merely defending himself after being shot at. No announcement was made that they were going to use non-deadly force.
After all, APD also has a history of shooting unarmed black men such as Larry Jackson, who was shot in the back of the head after Detective Charles Kleinert commandeered a citizens vehicle, chased him down, and shot him in the back of the head.
Travis County District Attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg made history when she and a grand jury indicted Kleinert for manslaughter. His case is set for trial later this year. A judge ruled that his case will be heard by a federal jury instead of a local jury.
It has yet to be seen how DA Lehmberg will handle Smith’s case. But it is one to keep an eye on. A reasonable person could argue that once you surrender peacefully and are shot anyway, all bets are off in terms of peacefully surrendering.