Skip to comments.Sagging Pants May Have Contributed To Fatal Shooting
Posted on 07/30/2007 11:08:32 AM PDT by Abathar
GARY, Ind. -- A teenager shot to death by an officer as he fled a burglary scene may have tried to pull up his sagging pants, causing the officer to mistake the movement for a reach for a weapon, according to newly filed court documents.
In a motion to dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Vincent Smith Jr.'s father, the city of Gary suggests the 16-year-old was shot as he was reaching down to hoist up his drooping pants and sprint away from Officer Levi Randolph.
"Police officers have to make a lot of split-second decisions," said city attorney Donald Levinson. "The law does not say you have to wait until someone shoots at you (to act)."
The city's motion includes photographs of Smith's body, his underwear clearly riding above his jean's sagging waist, laying in the alley behind a house he was apparently burglarizing.
Randolph, who was indicted in March for the Jan. 15 shooting, faces up to eight years in prison if convicted in the killing.
The officer claims he thought Smith was reaching to pull a gun as the teen walked out the back door of the house. Randolph said he fired at Smith but missed when the teen reached toward his pants before sprinting through the backyard.
Randolph said that after Smith scaled an 8-foot fence and dropped to the ground, he turned toward the pursuing officer and again reached into his pants. Randolph fired again and struck Smith behind the left ear, killing him instantly.
In both cases, Levinson suggests in his filing that Smith was gathering up his sagging pants in anticipation of sprinting away.
Low-hanging pants that wearers must frequently hoist have become a hip-hop fashion statement popularized by rappers. Sagging pants are said to have their roots in prison culture, where inmates were often issued ill-fitting pants and belts were banned.
Douglas Hobson, an attorney for Vincent Smith Sr., said police training should better prepare officers to make split-second judgments to prevent shooting suspects who pose no threat.
"You've got to know there is a gun or something that is going to hurt someone. If these kinds of excuses justify something like that, then we've got a long way to go," he said.
Oh well, I tried to be a good little liberal for a change, but it just ain't happening here.
If you dress like a thug, don’t be surprised when the police treat you like a thug.
Thinning the herd.
Gee, I feel just terrible,TERRIBLE about this.
Sometimes there’s nothing like a good belt to keep you alive. (Pun possibly intended)
"You've got to know there is a gun or something that is going to hurt someone. If these kinds of excuses justify something like that, then we've got a long way to go," he said."
Yep, he donated to Republican causes last year, I can just tell....
What's the point of walking around holding your pants up with one hand?
We need to get this info out to the gangsta-rap culture quickly! It will be so much easier for the cops to know who is the bad guy and who is packing.
Tight pants = criminal with gun
I think being shot at once by the police would have convinced me to stop running?
My thoughts exactly.
“The law does not say you have to wait until someone shoots at you (to act).”
Does that apply to me or only the police? There would be a whole lot fewer of these punks if open season with a bounty were declared.
“Randolph said that after Smith scaled an 8-foot fence and dropped to the ground, he turned toward the pursuing officer and again reached into his pants. Randolph fired again and struck Smith behind the left ear, killing him instantly.”
He turned toward the cop and was shot behind the ear? OooooK.
Maybe he was burglarizing the house so he could get money to buy a belt....
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