The City of Greensboro has been ordered to release police footage showing 50 incidents of a restraint method like the one used on Marcus Smith prior to his death in 2018.
The U.S. Magistrate Judge ruling stems from the Smith family's lawsuit against the city, eight police officers and two Guilford County paramedics involved.
A state medical examiner concluded that Smith died of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by a variety of factors: a history of heart problems, drugs and alcohol in his system, and “prone restraint” by police where his hands were bound to his feet, face down.
Autopsy reports ruled Smith's death a homicide.
The use of RIPP Hobble devices has since been outlawed. But retired civil rights lawyer Lewis Pitts and local activists say the judge's ruling will show the widespread pattern and practice of using this type of restraint within the Greensboro Police Department prior to Smith's death.
"That hogtying position has been known for well over 20 years to be extremely dangerous," says Pitts. "And in fact, the evidence shows that the RIPP Hobble device has been used 68 percent of the time on African American people which is very significant to this case."
Plans are currently in place for the city council to hold a work session next week to discuss an independent investigation into Smith's death.