Grief mixed with anger for the family of Winston Boogie Smith on Friday, a day after members of a federal fugitive task force shot and killed him during an arrest attempt at an Uptown Minneapolis parking ramp.
State investigators say Smith, 32, fired a gun from his vehicle as deputies closed in — although there is no body camera or squad dashcam footage of the shooting.
Smith died of multiple gunshot wounds, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office said Saturday morning. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.
Community members and Smith's friends and family gathered Friday, demanding answers. They held a memorial across the street from Stella's Fish Cafe, where Smith had what became his final meal Thursday afternoon before task force members tried to arrest him on a warrant for weapons-related charges.
"We want to see that footage of what actually happened," said his brother, Kidale Smith.
The death again brought protests to a city that has been on edge since the police killing of George Floyd last year and the historic conviction of a former Minneapolis officer for murder.
It added to tensions already heightened after city crews moved to reopen George Floyd Square, the South Side intersection that has become a memorial to Floyd and other victims of police violence. The workers on Thursday removed concrete barriers that blocked traffic. But within a few hours, activists had put up makeshift barriers, creating a stalemate.
Thursday night's protests were relatively small in comparison to the widespread demonstrations that followed Floyd's death but still occasionally veered into vandalism and arson. Police said nine people were arrested overnight.
Protests were also held Friday in Uptown and elsewhere. Multiple arrests were made after "riotous behavior" near Lake Street and S. Girard Avenue, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said officers will work overtime to address any further unrest and that the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the State Patrol will provide extra manpower. He added that while his office had been in contact with Gov. Tim Walz, he hasn't requested the assistance of National Guard troops "at this point."
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, said in a statement that members of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force approached Smith, who was in a parked car atop a parking ramp at W. Lake Street and S. Fremont Avenue.
Authorities said task force members were tipped off to the location of a man wanted on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a gun and tried to arrest him. Details of what happened next are still murky, but a preliminary investigation shows that a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy and a Ramsey County deputy shot Smith, reportedly after he brandished a gun. Smith died at the scene.
Authorities say they recovered a handgun and spent shell casings from Smith's car, suggesting that he fired a weapon at some point.
A statement from the U.S. Marshals' Office released hours after Smith's death said that he "failed to comply and produced a handgun."
A 27-year-old woman who was sitting next to Smith on the passenger side was injured by shattered glass.
Smith's shooting bears at least a passing resemblance to the Dec. 30 police killing of Dolal Idd at a south Minneapolis gas station. In that case, Minneapolis police were conducting a gun sting operation when Idd attempted to flee and then fired at police through the driver's-side window of his vehicle, prompting officers to return fire, according to body camera footage.
But investigators looking into Smith's death will not have the benefit of video of the encounter.
Authorities said there is no squad camera footage, and the deputies involved also weren't wearing body cameras because they were operating under the rules of the U.S. Marshals' North Star Fugitive Task Force, which don't allow the devices. The task force — which includes law enforcement officers from local agencies like the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the BCA — was "established to seek out fugitives and enforce federal predatory offender laws," according to the BCA's website.
Several police departments across the country, including St. Paul, have in recent years pulled their officers from federal task forces because they weren't allowed to wear body cameras. Last October, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had changed its policy to permit state, local, territorial and tribal task forces to use body-worn cameras "while serving arrest warrants, or during other planned arrest operations, and during the execution of search warrants."
Asked about the policy change, Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon referred questions to the U.S. Marshals, who did not respond.
The Marshals Service said in an earlier statement that many agencies were involved in the original operation, including officers from the Hennepin, Anoka and Ramsey county sheriff's offices and the federal Department of Homeland Security. Minneapolis police played no role.
U.S. Marshals Service spokesperson Nikki Credic-Barrett said the personnel involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave; their names haven't been released. She also said Smith was wanted on a Ramsey County warrant on a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Court records show the warrant was issued after Smith failed to appear for sentencing May 19 in Ramsey County District Court. He had been charged with two felonies in November 2019 when officers found him at a White Bear Lake apartment with a loaded handgun in his car. As a felon, he was prohibited from owning a gun. At that time, he had a Hennepin County warrant for violating the terms of his probation for an aggravated robbery conviction for a 2017 incident involving his ex-girlfriend.
Officers arrested Smith at the apartment and found a 9mm handgun with a round in the chamber under the driver's seat of his Camaro, the complaint said. Smith also faced a felony charge of fleeing police that was scheduled for trial in September.
A year ago, Bloomington police tried to arrest Smith on the two warrants after recognizing him in a Mall of America parking lot. When Smith saw the officers, he took off at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour with multiple police cars chasing him with lights and sirens activated, according to court documents. When Smith entered Hwy. 494 driving in the wrong direction, police ended the pursuit because of public safety concerns.
He was charged with fleeing police, a felony.
Kidale Smith said Friday that his brother had not been a perfect man, but that authorities ambushed him without giving him any time to surrender.
"This man had a family and he's just like anybody else," he said.
In the hours after his death, Smith's friends and relatives began posting tributes online about someone who was decribed as a charismatic and outgoing father of three. On his social media accounts, Smith, who went by Wince Me Boi, posted photos of family and friends while chronicling his forays into music and comedy.
In recent months, he also had become increasingly vocal about what he saw as the unjust killings of Black men by law enforcement. In one undated picture, he is seen with civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the families of Floyd and Daunte Wright, who was killed April 11 in a police traffic stop in Brooklyn Center.
"He was always a lively person … somebody who just wanted to make you laugh," said Beatrice Barber, his cousin. She added that he tried to make the world better using laughter, and "that's going to be one of the things that people remember most about him: his energy and his positiveness."Smith was also starting to build a small local following for his online comedy sketches. In a recent video posted by a notable local comedian nicknamed Steff Weezy, Smith played the role of a DoorDash driver "in the Hood" who was eating the food he was supposed to deliver.
"Bro, I've been trying a lot of food, I've been trying pizza, like ice cream, everything; bro, I've been trying a lot of new spots, this is a good job," he quips on the video. In another clip, posted to Weezy's Instagram page, Smith joked that he used his stimulus check to buy a Wienermobile.
Smith's social media accounts offered a glimpse of his final minutes. The last video he posted on Snapchat showed him eating an appetizer of Cajun beef bites at Stella's while sitting across the table from a woman whose face wasn't shown. The time stamp shows the video was recorded about 2 p.m. Minutes later, he was dead.
Staff writers Alex Chhith, Kim Hyatt, Andy Mannix and Paul Walsh contributed to this report.