Winston Smith’s car passenger takes legal action

Funeral services for Winston Smith
A relative carries Kyland Smith, son of Winston Smith, as they view the casket during funeral services for Winston Smith at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis on June 12.
Kerem Yücel for MPR News file

The woman who was with Winston Smith on June 3 when law enforcement killed him during an attempted arrest at a Minneapolis parking ramp is taking legal action.

Attorneys for Norhan Askar filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court against the Hennepin and Ramsey county sheriff’s offices. The attorneys filed a separate $15 million federal tort complaint against the U.S. Marshals Service that led the task force whose officers fatally shot Smith.

The lawsuit alleges Askar and Smith were leaving a lunch date on June 3 in Uptown when two plainclothes deputies shot into their parked car. Askar’s attorneys say she was hurt from flying glass and suffers emotionally from what she experienced. The lawsuit says Askar never acted suspiciously or violently during the entire encounter with police and was never warned about what was happening.

Earlier in July, Askar through her attorneys said officers did not identify themselves as authorities when they surrounded Smith’s car with guns drawn. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in June that it would not release the sheriff’s deputies’ names because they were working undercover.

Investigators say there is no body camera or squad camera footage and are unaware of any surveillance video. Local sheriffs have ended their work with the U.S. Marshals task force over its body camera policy.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the court in which the lawsuit was filed. The above copy is updated.

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