Why Winston Smith Death Bodycam Video May Never Be Seen

Unlike previous deaths of Black people involving law enforcement officials, Thursday's fatal shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr. may never be viewed by the public due to U.S. marshals' involvement in the incident, as they reportedly do not wear body cameras.

Demonstrations erupted in Minneapolis on Thursday night after members of a U.S. Marshals Service task force shot 32-year-old Smith, who is Black, while reportedly attempting to arrest him.

A statement from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department did not identify Smith, but said the suspect was wanted on a warrant for gun possession.

The marshals fired at Smith after he allegedly produced a handgun, the spokesperson said.

Attempts to revive him were ultimately unsuccessful, as paramedics declared him dead at the scene. At the time of the shooting, Smith was in a parked car with an unidentified woman, who suffered minor injuries in the incident.

Footage shared to social media showed a night of civil unrest in Minneapolis involving fire, looting and rioting. The city is still reeling from the death of George Floyd in police custody, which shook the nation just over a year ago. Floyd's last moments were documented by witnesses' amateur recordings and police body camera footage.

Recent deaths of Black men involving law enforcement officials—Ronald Greene on May 10, 2019 outside Monroe, Louisiana; Andrew Brown Jr. on April 21, 2021 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota—prompted calls for the release of police bodycam footage for greater transparency surrounding their deaths. In each case, at least fragments of the recordings were publicly released, with Greene's tapes made public by The Associated Press in May.

However, it is unclear whether the circumstances leading up to Smith's death will ever be shown via video. According to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reporter Matt Sepic, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service—a federal law enforcement agency—said its deputies do not wear body cameras.

Whether the officers involved in Smith's shooting opted to have bodycams on their person remains to be seen, and the possibility of other agencies responding at the scene wearing bodycams has not been confirmed. The Star Tribune reported Minneapolis police were not involved in the incident.

Newsweek has contacted the U.S. Marshals Service for comment.

Newsweek has previously reported Smith's social media posts indicated a demonstrated interest in issues such as racial injustice and police reform. Smith was previously photographed alongside Ben Crump, a prominent attorney who represents the families of Floyd and Wright.

In one video on his Instagram account, Smith joked about his resemblance to a man who was present at the trial of Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over Floyd's killing.

Winston Smith shot by police in Minneapolis
Winston Boogie Smith Jr.'s social media posts indicated a demonstrated interest in issues such as racial injustice and police reform. Facebook