Lawsuit filed over Montgomery officer-involved fatal shooting

Lawsuit filed over Montgomery officer-involved fatal shooting
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The mother of a man killed in an officer-involved shooting in early 2018 has filed a wrongful death suit against the City of Montgomery, its police department, police chief and two officers.

Lisa Hill filed the suit on behalf of her deceased son, Lonnie James Smith Jr. nearly two years to the day of his death. Her suit alleges the events surrounding her son’s death on Feb. 21, 2018, violated Fourth Amendment protections against illegal seizure and use of excessive force, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection under the law.

Smith was killed after a pursuit by Montgomery police officers, who initially responded to the 1600 block of Westcott Street in west Montgomery that Wednesday afternoon on reports that someone had been shot.

MPD said at the time that officers found one “victim” seriously injured and that a single, armed “suspect” fled the scene. Officer later encountered the suspect, identified as Smith, at the intersection of Hill and Jordan Streets.

During an altercation, one officer suffered a non-life-threatening injury and Smith was killed. The State Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation because an officer discharged their service weapon.

Hill’s suit says her son was the victim of a robbery, not a suspect, and that he had a “concealed carry” permit and was exercising his Second Amendment right when he was assaulted and robbed by three men.

She contends he “escaped the confinement of the robbers” only to come into contact with MPD officers a short time later as he was walking down a sidewalk. The suit states that Smith was shot in the back while fleeing from officers who were shooting at him.

Church security video shows Smith fleeing after a shooting encounter with police. (Source: Freewill Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery)
Church security video shows Smith fleeing after a shooting encounter with police. (Source: Freewill Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery)

Two days after the shooting, it was revealed that a church’s surveillance cameras captured part of the confrontation, though not the moments that led to Smith’s death.

Smith (shown at near center of frame by pole) is said to be exchanging gunfire with police. (Source: Freewill Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery)
Smith (shown at near center of frame by pole) is said to be exchanging gunfire with police. (Source: Freewill Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery)

Rev. Ed Nettles, the pastor of Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, said at the time of the video’s release that Smith’s father, who attends the church, “accepts what has happened,” and that he believed the use of force by police was justified.

Hill is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and court costs in a jury trial.

When asked for comment, the Montgomery Police Department said it does not discuss pending litigation.

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