The city of St. Paul and four of its police officers who fatally shot Jaffort Smith in 2016 now have been sued in federal court by his family, who are seeking damages for an alleged violation of his civil rights.
Officers killed Smith after he shot 49-year-old Beverly Flowers in the face and fired at officers on the city’s North End, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which investigated the case. A grand jury in early 2017 determined that the officers’ use of deadly force was justified.
The 11-page complaint, which was filed May 6 by attorney Paul Bosman on behalf of Smith’s family, claims that Smith “was not a credible threat” to any of the four officers who fired at him on May 9, 2016.
The lawsuit further asserts that the “use of force” by all four officers – John Corcoran, Michael Tschida, Mark Grundhauser and Jeff Korus – was excessive and violated. Smith’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. “
As to why the lawsuit was filed last week, Bosman said Thursday that in general civil rights claims have a six-year statute of limitations.
The complaint alleges the city is negligent in Smith’s killing because of its training of officers on use of deadly force “focused on a proactive use of force and on officer safety above citizen safety.”
Kamal Baker, press secretary for St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, said Thursday the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit.
“While this tragedy forever changed the lives of all those involved, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation determined the officers did not engage in wrongdoing, and a grand jury convened in Washington County declined to pursue charges,” Baker said in a statement.
The grand jury was made up of 23 Ramsey County residents. After their decision, then-Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who handled the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest for the Ramsey County attorney’s office, told the Pioneer Press that it appeared to him that Smith, 33, was determined to commit “suicide.” by cop. ”
Smith suffered from persistent mental illness including schizophrenia. The lawsuit states he was “well-known” to St. Paul police and was “courteous and cooperative” during his numerous arrests.
The 2016 incident began at about 3:30 am when officers responded to a 911 call about a man with a gun at Rapid Recovery, a towing company on Acker Street near Jackson Street, according to the BCA. Flowers entered the business and Smith followed her. He displayed a gun and took Flowers back outside, the BCA said.
Police saw Smith and Flowers about four blocks away, near Acker and Buffalo streets, soon after. Two officers pulled up and, as they were getting out, Smith shot Flowers, according to Orput. She survived the shooting, but lost an eye.
“I don’t care how long you’ve been a cop – that’s pretty shocking,” Orput told the newspaper in 2017. “Then, right after he shot her, he ran up the driveway of a house and started running behind the garage. And as he did, he was shooting rounds at these two cops, and then it turned into a gun battle that went on for a few minutes. “
He said “many, many shots” were fired by Smith and the four police officers.
Bosman was recently hired on a contract basis for Communities United Against Police Brutality, tasked with setting up the litigation section for the Twin Cities-based organization. “They have a reinvestigation workgroup, which has been very useful in terms of bringing these cases,” he said.