Norhan Askar begged her date to cooperate as authorities closed in on them.
"Just put your hands up, please put your hands up — they're going to kill me, and I have nothing to do with this," she recalled telling him.
Her account of the final, chilling moments of Winston Boogie Smith Jr.'s life is part of a series of records released Wednesday by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) from its investigation into the killing of Smith by members of the North Star Fugitive Task Force in Minneapolis.
The BCA has made public most of the case file, containing more than a thousand pages of documents, along with audio and photos, one week after Crow Wing County Attorney Donald Ryan announced that the deputies involved would face no charges. Evidence released in the case suggests Smith drew a handgun and fired from the vehicle, although it was unclear who shot first. Smith's family has called for an independent investigation.
Smith, 32, was shot and killed June 3 by members of a U.S. Marshals Service-led task force while they attempted to arrest him on a warrant after he missed his sentencing for illegal possession of a firearm. The file includes photos of Smith's bullet-riddled Maserati and a handgun next to the driver's seat.
The case file does not yet contain body and dash camera footage from officers responding after the shooting because the videos have not been fully redacted, said BCA spokeswoman Jill Oliveira. There is not video recording of the shooting itself. The BCA said Wednesday evening that it temporarily removed the case file from the internet because three nonpublic names were not redacted.
Hours after the shooting, Askar gave an interview to BCA Special Agent Michelle Frascone in audio released as part of the case file. Askar said she met Smith through her best friend and they had been dating for three weeks. Smith told her he had a little trouble with police, "but he never told me everything. He would just brush it off and tell me the case is dismissed and stuff like that. … I never got a felon vibe or anything."
After they had a lunch date at Stella's Fish Cafe, they returned to his vehicle in the Uptown parking ramp across the street when "all of a sudden like 50 police cars" came up to them and officers ordered them to put their hands up. Askar obeyed and told Smith to do the same. But Smith said he didn't want to go jail, tried to go on Facebook Live, and said, "I wanna die … I'm going to die."
She felt glass shatter into the car, sensed something coming toward her head and ducked. She said it would have hit her if she hadn't moved.
"I was like, 'Oh, my God … please get me out of here, this has nothing to do with me. Please get me out of here, please, please, please, please, please,' " Askar recalled. "And then that's when the officer opened my door."
Askar said the officers' weapons were the only ones she saw and described being in a state of shock. There were so many officers, and helicopters whirring overheard, that Askar wondered, "What the hell did he do wrong?"
In a recorded interview with Senior Special Agent Brent Petersen, Minneapolis Police Officer Dean Milner said he was one of the first to arrive on the scene Milner said he saw several vehicles converged together and officers appearing to perform CPR on a man lying nearby. He said he was told to take the woman, later identified as Askar, into custody.
"I took custody of her, and I noticed that she had some injuries of shrapnel on, I believe it would be the left side of her body." Milner said. He said he didn't tell Askar that Smith probably wasn't going to survive because he didn't want her "mindset to change to sympathy." Askar has since sued Hennepin and Ramsey counties, their sheriff's departments and the two deputies who fired their weapons. Her attorney declined to comment Wednesday. Christopher Scott, an attorney for the Smith family, also declined to comment.
Erika Brown, who had served Smith and Askar on the rooftop patio of Stella's, told investigators that the couple were polite, funny and "having a good day." Shortly after they left, she heard what she first thought were fireworks, until she saw nervous patrons and what she believed to be undercover police cars at the ramp across the street.
She realized the noise had been gunfire — 11 to 13 shots in all — and crouched down for safety.
A chaotic scene
Smith was shot by two deputies — one from Hennepin County and one from Ramsey County — who were working on the task force. Because Minnesota and federal laws call for concealment of the names of officers working undercover, their names have not been released and likely will not be.
An unnamed Ramsey County sheriff's deputy said in a written statement four days after the shooting that he "developed information" that Smith was at Stella's that afternoon and asked members of the fugitive task force to come to Uptown to assist him with the case. The deputy's statement indicated that at least nine task force members confronted Smith at in the parking ramp. The officers "boxed in" Smith's car in with their vehicles, he said, but Smith ignored their commands to put his hands up and leave his car. The deputy said he saw Smith begin to pull out a gun.
The deputy said he yelled "gun" and fired "multiple rounds" from his firearm through the windshield until the weapons jammed. He said he then heard someone yell "move back" and saw another officer shoot through the driver's side window.
A deputy marshal knocked out the glass of the rear window on the passenger's side with his AR-15 to get a view of Smith and saw him slumped over, a gun on the floor just behind the driver's seat. Officers issued commands, but Smith did not respond, and one said "his body appeared lifeless" as they pulled him out of the passenger's side door, laid him on the ground and began to administer lifesaving measures until EMS arrived.
Ballistics testing contained in the case file identified six shell casings and two bullet fragments from the .380-caliber gun. Smith's body was riddled with a dozen bullets, mostly in his torso.
The Maserati had been lent to Smith by an acquaintance for his comedy videos, and the vehicle's owner told investigators he knew nothing about the firearm found in the car and that it wasn't his. Investigators learned that the gun had been reported stolen the previous year in Des Moines, Iowa, but Smith hadn't been a suspect and the woman who filed a police report about the theft had never heard of him.
The BCA didn't find footage showing any part of the confrontation in surveillance video from Stella's and the parking garage. Twelve days after the shooting, Petersen learned of a city-owned security camera mounted at the intersection of W. Lake St. and Girard Avenue S. — where the parking ramp is located — and tried to secure footage from the time of the shooting. But the Police Department told him the camera was installed June 3, a few hours after the incident, and no video from the time of the shooting exists.
Ryan, the Crow Wing County attorney, asked for any data or statistics maintained by the Marshals Service regarding use-of-force in incidents involving the so-called "box-in" tactic. He also wanted to know how many times the tactic had resulted in the death or serious harm of someone being arrested. The Marshals Service said the agency has been involved in 11 deadly force or shooting incidents since October 2018, but the "vehicle containment" procedure was used only in the fatal encounter with Smith.
Fifth Precinct inspector Katie Blackwell said in a June 3 interview that she arrived at the scene and asked an officer wearing a marshals vest whether everyone was OK. The marshal said all officers were OK, but "the guy who shot at us isn't," she recalled.
BCA agents interviewed a Hennepin EMS paramedic, Ian Nash, who was among the first to respond after the shooting. Nash said he and his partner, Aaron Nelson, waited several minutes for the scene to be cleared. When they arrived, they found between 10 to 12 people standing around, with one agent performing CPR on Smith. Nash said he stepped away to grab an airway bag. By the time he returned, Nelson had already pronounced Smith dead.
Based on his experience and training, Nash concluded, Smith was dead before paramedics arrived.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.