Suit links death to Mpls. police retaliation

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 14, 2011 - 10:50 PM

The mother of a man who died shortly after his 2008 arrest has filed a wrongful-death suit against Minneapolis and five police officers.

The mother of a man who died shortly after being arrested by Minneapolis police in 2008 has sued the city and five officers, alleging that her son's death was in part retaliation for his attempt to hold police accountable for an earlier arrest in which he was injured.

Quincy Deshawn Smith, 24, went into cardiac arrest as officers used punches, kicks and a Taser to control him during the Dec. 9, 2008, arrest, according to the lawsuit filed by Bettie Smith. Her son was dead upon arrival at a hospital.

Several weeks earlier, Quincy Smith learned that an appeals court had cleared the way for his lawsuit alleging police brutality against several Minneapolis officers stemming from a 2005 arrest. In that suit, Smith claimed that he was handcuffed and thrown to the ground despite being compliant; police said he obstructed officers as they cited a friend of his for walking against a red light.

A jury later acquitted Smith.

An officer at the 2005 and 2008 arrests, Timothy Devick, was the first to try to stop Smith on the night of his death.

City attorney Susan Segal said Monday that the city has not seen the lawsuit and had no comment.

A call to Bettie Smith was not immediately returned.

On the night of his death, Smith allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend, who was at a house in the 1000 block of Knox Avenue N. A witness called 911 and reported that Smith was running away, carrying a rifle. Devick saw Smith run into a nearby yard and chased him through new snow.

Devick stopped Smith behind a house, then drew his handgun and ordered Smith to the ground. Smith refused. They struggled briefly and Smith ran off. Two officers who had arrived caught Smith and forced him to the ground. The five officers punched Smith four to seven times in the face and head, used a Taser on him seven or eight times, kneed him six times in his ribs and hit him in the upper back with the butt of a shotgun, according to the suit. Devick also attempted to apply a neck restraint to Smith, according to the suit.

Smith was eventually handcuffed while he was face down, but when officers rolled him over they discovered he was not breathing, the suit said. Devick began chest compressions while other officers called for an ambulance.

No officers saw a rifle during their pursuit of Smith, the suit said.

Last March a Hennepin County grand jury declined to indict the five officers in connection with Smith's death.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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