In Greensboro, community leaders and activists are calling on the city to withdraw its motion to delay the wrongful death trial of Marcus Smith. On September 8, 2018, Smith was immobilized by four police officers using a controversial restraining method similar to a hogtie.
Several people spoke at a press conference held outside of Greensboro's Government Plaza and they expressed their frustration with what they describe as delaying justice for Smith's family.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Smith's death a homicide, but Greensboro Police Department's internal investigation found no violations of internal policies in their handling of the situation. Last week, City lawyers filed a motion for a stay of the trial.
Beloved Community Center Co-Executive Director Rev. Nelson Johnson helped organize the event. He says the youth presence there and the current climate of protest leaves him feeling confident their demands will be met.
“This massive outpouring of concern and the lifting up specifically of Black Lives Matter is unique in the history of this country at least in the modern era,” says Johnson. “And it seems to me that it's not going away.”
Attorney Lewis Pitts calls the delay motion on the part of City of Greensboro lawyers during the discovery phase of the trial unprecedented.
He says, “It's imperative in the interest of the estate which is bringing the lawsuit, or the local community, of the judiciary to not act as if our system seeks to kick the can down the road forever on getting the truth out about what happened.”
Pitts questions the role city officials played in the decision-making process.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan responded in a written statement: “At this point in the litigation it is just unclear who would be the beneficiary of any payment that we might make. It has come to light that Mr. Smith may have had children. That question is being litigated within the context of his estate proceeding. We are waiting for that matter to be resolved so we can move forward.”
Pitts questions that justification for halting the trial. He adds the specific allocation of monies awarded to the Smith family will be decided upon by a separate and independent legal process.