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A recently fired Missouri detective was arrested Wednesday after surveillance footage appeared to show him driving his police SUV into a fleeing Black man and then beating the prone man.
Former Detective Joshua Smith, of Ferguson, was on duty the night of June 2 when he claims he spotted a vehicle with illegally tinted windows, a non-functioning front headlight, and no license plate, according to his report referenced in a police press release. He claimed the car also failed to signal when changing lanes.
He said he was attempting an "investigatory stop" of the vehicle when the people inside jumped out and ran.
Surveillance footage of the incident paints a different picture. In the video, the car's occupants — both Black men — can be seen scrambling out of their car and running toward a nearby house in a suburban neighborhood, as shown in a clip acquired Wednesday by the Associated Press.
Moments after the second man exits the car, the video appears to show a police SUV speeding across the house’s driveway and slamming into the man. No siren is audible and the SUV’s police lights are not flashing.
The apparent police vehicle parks on the lawn, and a police officer is seen jumping out and running toward the man. The man tries to run, but appears injured and quickly collapses to the ground.
The officer appears to kick the prone man before crouching and beating him with his fists. The man is heard screaming and repeatedly saying “I don’t got nothing” as the officer arrests him.
Following widespread protests, Smith was fired a week later on June 10, St. Louis Public Radio reported. Smith was arrested Wednesday on charges of first degree assault, fourth degree assault and armed criminal action, according to a police press release.
He was previously held on a $50,000 bond, but posted bail the day of his arrest, local outlet Fox 2 reported.
Meanwhile, the alleged victim “suffered serious injuries requiring surgery and remains traumatized by this shocking incident,” his attorneys said in a statement Tuesday. His identity has not been released.
Smith was with the police department for nine years and has been sued twice before, KMOV, a St. Louis station, reported.
In 2017, a man alleged Smith rammed his cop car into his vehicle during a traffic stop, before pulling him out and assaulting him. That case remains pending, according to KMOV.
In 2013, another man’s family sued Smith after the detective allegedly shot and killed him. Court records show that the police department initially called the death a suicide, according to the station. The case has since been dismissed.
Scott Rosenblum, Smith’s attorney, maintained his client’s innocence in a statement to Fox 2.
Rosenblum maintains that Smith identified himself as a police officer prior to the videotaped arrest and that the suspects had attempted to flee in their vehicle. Despite the surveillance footage, he maintains that no kicking or punching took place.
“He threw not one punch,” Rosenblum said. “If he was looking to do harm, he would have taken out his gun.”
Smith's arrest and charges come as the nation faces ongoing protests about police brutality and racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was allegedly murdered by a white police officer.
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