September 26, 2010

Taser Death: David Cornelius Smith (Minneapolis, MN)

Another day ... another unarmed US citizen killed by taser-happy police. This time the taser-related killing occured September 9th in Minneapolis MN. David Cornelius Smith, 28, was accused of disturbing members at a Minneapolois YMCA. The police were called and confronted Smith in the sixth-floor gym.

When officers Timothy Gorman and Timothy Callahan tried to physically remove Smith from the YMCA, he fought with them for several minutes, injuring one of them slightly before he was electrocuted with a taser gun. After he was arrested, it was clear that something was wrong and Smith was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.

Smith was brain-dead and in a coma for 10 days.  He stayed on life support at the Hennpin County Medical Center until September 18th ... when he died.

Some reports indicate that Smith was handcuffed and restrained before the taser gun was used. Family members claim that they have seen marks, consistent with taser barbs, on his back.

"For them to take his life in the prime of his life is wrong," said Diane Smith, David Smith's mother.
She said what happened to her son was mean, cruel and unnecessary. See video (embedded version not available).

"What gives man the right to take another person's life for something as simple as a little disorderly conduct at a gym that you were a member of?" she continued.
Diane Smith said her son loved to play basketball at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA. His sister Angela said he was known there. That's why his family is having a hard time understanding.

"How could a healthy, smart, God-loving young man full of life go into the Y and come out in a coma?" said Angela Smith, David Smith's sister.
Gorman and Callahan were placed on standard paid administrative leave, but they are now back at work and the investigation continues.

His family believes there is more to the story. They want to know why he had to die this way.

"I could have seen it if he had a gun. I could have seen it if he had a knife, throwing it at them. I wish they would have shot my son in his leg, anything, sprayed him with pepper spray. He's not a very big guy anyway and he's not a violent guy," Diane Smith said.
David Smith's mother and sister said there were no drugs or alcohol found in his system.


Gunfighter said...

If the criminal class would only read your blog, they might understand that fighting with the cops is a bad way to go.

It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with the way the police employed their taser on a combative criminal suspect.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - Like any blogger I always encourage new readers ... and I'm indifferent as to their past experiences with the criminal justice system. I just ask that they read and feel free to share their village voice whenever possible!

I wouldn't even mind if more LEOs join the discussion as well.

I realize now that I need to begin to look for a more proactive way to discuss alternative solutions. I'm not a believer in banning tasers. I just think that there is something wrong when tasers are killing people on a weekly basis.

re: David Smith. He was unarmed. He was on the 6th floor of a building in a wide open facility ... a gym. It seems that the police could have defused the situation rather than elevating to the point of killing him.

The penalty for resisting arrest or being disrespectful to a police officer should not be DEATH.

Anonymous said...

I personally knew David, He was my Fiance's best friend and like a brother to me.
If you knew David you would automatically know that the use of a Taser was not needed.
David was a very kind and gentle soul. I have NEVER seen him violent and I have been around him on a daily basis for the past 4 yrs, and my Fiance has been around him daily for the past 10 yrs, and we can both attest to that. Something is missing here, and we need to find out. David was not a dangerous person, he wasn't violent. There was no need for this. This is just Human beings
( the police ) given too much control and power. Those officers had Pepper spary, Heavy Flash lights, Batons and other ways that could have deesculated the situation. They should have shot him, he would have had a better chance, and as of now instead of visiting David in the Hospital I will be attending his Funeral this week. We will do everything in our power to let the truth be known about tasers especially in the hands of people who obviously don't know when and where and who they should be used on. We all hurt right now, but they cannot hurt him any longer. We love you David.

Villager said...

NSS - Our prayers are with David's family and friends. Please let me know if there is anything that we can do on this blog to help his family get the word out about this tragedy.

Gunfighter said...

"They should have shot him"?

Do you really think that the police should have shot him with their handguns? Or used batons or heavy flashlights to beat him?

Villager said...

Gunfighter - The man's family (I think his mother) indicates that she wished that the police had shot him in the leg if they were worried about him running away. I guess she figures that fixing a leg wound is better than planning a funeral.

Villager said...

All - Lawsuit in this taser-killing case alleges negligence by the Denver police department. Read the full article (including a video of the taser-killing).