Settle the Marcus Smith Case

Greensboro City Council

It is important for the citizens of Greensboro to take corrective action to encourage the City Council to hold our police department accountable. This is the duty of good citizenship. Further, and most importantly, we believe that citizen action can prevent further abuse of police power and promote good government.

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To: Greensboro City Council
From: [Your Name]


We, the People and Organizations below, are hereby urging you to immediately settle the federal lawsuit stemming from the hogtying homicide of Marcus Deon Smith and take further action as stated below.

On Sept. 8, 2018, Marcus Deon Smith approached police officers as he wandered, in a state of panic and confusion, into and out of traffic on Church Street in downtown Greensboro. In obvious distress. Mr. Smith asked for help. He was told he would be taken to the hospital and voluntarily got into a police patrol car.

After a short time, Mr. Smith became agitated and tried to get out of the vehicle. When he was allowed out of the car several officers took him to the pavement face down, handcuffed his hands behind his back and proceeded with force to bind his feet close to his hands behind his back with a strap. This procedure of binding a detainee’s feet to hands is known as “maximally restrained” by the GPD but it is commonly called hogtying.

While Mr. Smith was being restrained he stopped breathing and had no pulse. He later was declared dead at Cone Hospital. The North Carolina Medical Examiner ruled the manner of death a homicide. Throughout this incident Marcus presented a purely medical and mental health problem, not a law enforcement problem. He had not committed a crime, he was not engaged in any criminal conduct, he was unarmed, he made no threats to anyone, and he was not actively resisting arrest.

At the time of this incident the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) Directives and their Supplemental Subject Control Techniques training manual stated that the detained person’s knees should remain extended greater than 90 degrees to prevent positional asphyxia. The officers who hog-tied Smith when they bound his wrists and ankles tightly together violated department standards. Eight GPD officers participated in, or stood by and watched without intervention to stop it, while the homicide occurred.

Rather than disciplining the officers and offering reasonable compensation to the Smith family for the death, the City of Greensboro has thus far spent over $414,000 for private lawyers (in addition to their salaried lawyers) to deny any wrongdoing and to seek to have the case totally dismissed. Yet, the case is nowhere close to completion.

While the world is reeling with the death of George Floyd and the current Greensboro police chief has condemned how he was killed by some form of asphyxiation, we have a wrongful, reckless asphyxiation case right here in Greensboro.

The public interest in justice, fairness, and equal protection of law require a quick, fair settlement of this case, not years of costly litigation denying what common sense reveals was excessive force and what has already been ruled a homicide.

THEREFORE, WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, call on you to immediately (1) halt the expenditure of money on lawyers and litigation and ( 2) settle the case by paying a reasonable sum to the Smith family that recognizes that Black Lives Matter.

Coalition initiated by the Beloved Community Center (BCC)