Family IDs man fatally shot in Mpls. arrest attempt; BCA says no bodycam footage of incident

A group of people stand behind a podium while a woman speaks.
Family of Winston Smith outside Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension headquarters Friday, June 4, demanding release of any video of his killing by deputies Thursday in Uptown Minneapolis. Tieshia Floyd, Smith's sister, was among the first to speak at the press conference.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Updated 8:35 p.m.

Authorities said there is no video footage of officers shooting and killing a man during what they say was an attempted arrest Thursday afternoon in an Uptown Minneapolis parking ramp.

Family members identified the man who died as 32-year-old Winston Boogie Smith.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension — which is investigating the shooting — said a Ramsey and a Hennepin County Sheriff's deputy both shot Smith and "evidence at the scene indicates that the man fired his own weapon from inside the vehicle."

The BCA says the deputies were part of the U.S. Marshals Service North Star fugitive task force, which "does not allow the use of body cameras." There's no squad car video of the shooting either.

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The Department of Justice changed its body camera policy in October of 2020, announcing that it would "permit state, local, territorial and tribal task force officers to use body-worn cameras on federal task forces around the nation."

A handgun and spent cartridge cases were found inside the vehicle, according to a release from the BCA.

Smith was wanted on a warrant for a felony firearms violation, authorities said.

Friday afternoon and evening, groups of friends, family and protesters gathered near where Smith was shot to grieve his killing.

His sister, Tieshia Floyd said law enforcement is leaving a false impression of her brother, by publicizing why they were seeking him.

"No he wasn't perfect, none of us are,” Floyd said. “He was trying to turn over a new leaf but they took that away from him. They're using his past to tarnish his character. They're using his past to diminish that, what he was trying to do in the present."

Taylor Lynn said Smith was her best friend, a father, musician and comedian. She says she can’t believe the federal task force’s account, since they were not required to wear body cameras.

Lynn — along with the family — are demanding immediate release of any surrounding surveillance video.

“At this point, we just need justice. We need cameras. We need whatever. We need all that ASAP,” she said.

Activist Jonathan Mason says he remembers Smith as a well-known comedian in the Twin Cities. Mason says it’s hard to cope with ongoing trauma in Black communities even as the pandemic winds down.

“We have businesses that are reeling. We have people that are getting killed by community shootings, and now we have police violence again,” Mason said. “So it’s almost like we have PTSD of this in Minnesota, and it’s very reminiscent. What’s going to happen? Is this summer going to be reminiscent of last summer?”

On Thursday, a small crowd had gathered in the same area, shouting expletives at police.

Around a dozen businesses near the site of the shooting were vandalized or looted during the overnight unrest.

According to Jill Osiecki, director of the Uptown Association, a non-profit group which promotes the Uptown area and its businesses, a CVS, Walgreens and T-Mobile store were looted. Other businesses reported being broken into.

Protesters set a dumpster on fire after authorities shot a man in Uptown Minneapolis on Thursday.
Richard Tsong-Taatari | Star Tribune via AP

A dumpster was burned and windows were smashed. A Minneapolis Police statement said nine people were arrested on charges of arson, riot, assault and damage to property.

Members are feeling the strain, said Osiecki, especially since business started ramping up after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. 

“It seems to be this circle that just is never ending. We have some hope to see the end of some of this unrest,” she said. “Unfortunately, things like this that are out of control will continue to happen. It’s frustrating.”

Osiecki said the group has reached out to the city to see if there might be extra safety assistance for the area over the weekend.

Smith, who was in a parked car, didn't comply with law enforcement and “produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject,” the U.S. Marshals said in a statement. Taskforce members attempted life-saving measures, but he died at the scene, they said.

It was not clear how many law enforcement officers fired their weapons. A spokesperson with the U.S. Marshals said the U.S. Marshals leads the task force, which is comprised of several agencies. Other agencies with personnel on the scene at the time of the shooting include sheriff's offices from Hennepin, Anoka and Ramsey counties, the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. Marshals said a female who was in the vehicle was treated for minor injuries due to glass debris.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, an aerial view of the top level of the parking ramp where Thursday’s shooting reportedly occurred showed a silver sport utility vehicle with a shattered back window. It was surrounded by many other vehicles near a white pop-up tent. Several officers were nearby and in a glass-enclosed stairwell.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms both tweeted that they were responding to help investigate.

The Marshals said the state BCA is leading the investigation.

The BCA's website says that its special agents serve on the North Star Fugitive Task Force. A BCA spokesperson said that while agents partner with the task force "on a limited basis,” there were no BCA agents involved in this incident.

The investigation is being handled by the BCA's force investigation unit and none of those agents participate in the task force, spokesperson Bruce Gordon said.

The Minneapolis Police Department said it was not involved in the shooting.

The city has been on edge since the deaths of George Floyd, a Black man who died last year after he was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis officers, and Daunte Wright, a Black motorist who was fatally shot in April by an officer in the nearby suburb of Brooklyn Center.

Before Thursday night's unrest, tensions in Minneapolis already had risen after crews early Thursday removed concrete barriers that blocked traffic at a Minneapolis intersection where a memorial to Floyd was assembled after his death. Crews also cleared artwork, flowers and other items from 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd was killed, informally known as George Floyd Square, but community activists quickly put up makeshift barriers.

Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death, and three other officers await trial on aiding and abetting charges. Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter is charged with manslaughter in Wright's death.

MPR News reporter Nina Moini contributed to this report.