Fatal Police Shooting in Minneapolis Sparks a Night of Protests and Vandalism

AP Photo/John Minchillo

At approximately 2:10 pm Thursday afternoon, members of a law enforcement task force headed up by the U.S. Marshal’s Service shot and killed an armed black man in downtown Minneapolis in the process of trying to make an arrest on an outstanding criminal warrant.

“Operation Safe Streets” is a federally funded law enforcement initiative begun more than 30 years ago, and is aimed at providing federal resources to state and local law enforcement agencies efforts to arrest violent offenders with outstanding warrants. The federal government provides equipment and funding for overtime pay to state and local officers assigned to the task force, and their job is to pursue and arrest subjects with histories of violent offenses who have outstanding warrants.

A statement put out by the US Marshal’s Service stated that task force members moved in to arrest Winston Boogie Smith while he was seated in a vehicle parked in a downtown Minneapolis parking garage. Smith had an outstanding arrest warrant for a charge of being a “felon in possession of a firearm,” but was also a suspect in a recent murder. In 2018, Smith was sentenced to four years in prison for a conviction on the charge of 1st Degree Aggravated Robbery in Minnesota but was released after serving just one year in custody.

According to an ABC News report, the United States Marshal’s Service provided the following information following the shooting:

The man, who was in a parked car, didn’t comply with law enforcement and “produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject,” the U.S. Marshals said in a statement. Task force members attempted life-saving measures, but he died at the scene, they said.

It was not clear how many law enforcement officers fired their weapons. A spokeswoman with the U.S. Marshals said the U.S. Marshals leads the task force, which is comprised of several agencies. Other agencies with personnel on the scene at the time of the shooting include sheriff’s offices from Hennepin, Anoka and Ramsey counties, the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Minneapolis Police Department hurriedly made it known that no MPD officers were part of the task force.

The shooting came only hours after steps were taken by the City of Minneapolis to begin dismantling “George Floyd Square”. The Minneapolis Star Tribute reported later that Thursday night and into Friday morning protesters gathered at the scene began to commit acts of violence in the area of the police incident.

Protesters gathered near the scene of the 2 p.m. shooting atop a parking ramp at W. Lake Street and S. Fremont Avenue remained late into the night. Others later took to the streets and were involved in property damage, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said in a statement.

“Thankfully there are no personal injuries that we know of,” said Bender, who represents the area where the incident took place.

Police made some arrests, but with activity stretching well into the early morning hours Friday, a comprehensive number was not expected until midday Friday, said Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder.

A CVS pharmacy on Lake Street had windows smashed in and products strewn about. Some trash cans were set on fire and at least one light pole near Urban Outfitters was damaged.

It remains to be seen if further protests will follow tonight and over the weekend.