Greensboro, Guilford County, the eight Greensboro police officers and two Guilford County Emergency Medical Services paramedics who were present when Marcus Deon Smith died on Sept. 8, 2018 are being sued by Mary and George Smith the parents of Marcus Smith.
Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Firm of Chicago and Graham Holt of Greensboro filed the lawsuit in federal district court in Greensboro on Wednesday, April 10 on behalf of the Smiths.
It was expected that Greensboro and a number of Greensboro police officers would be sued by the Smith family, but the suit against Guilford County and the Emergency Medical Services personnel was somewhat unexpected as is the fact that the attorneys chose to sue eight police officers who were at the scene.
What is somewhat surprising is that with all the complaints against Police Chief Wayne Scott and all the demands that he be fired, that Scott is not being sued. The lawsuit does accuse Scott of “deliberate indifference, gross negligence, and reckless disregard to the safety, security and constitutional and statutory rights of the Decedent, plaintiffs, and all persons similarly situated …”
The lawsuit also accuses the Greensboro police department of attempting to cover up the cause of Smith’s death by issuing an inaccurate press release.
At a news conference held Monday at the Bethel AME Church Taylor said, “The defendant Greensboro Police Officers caused Marcus’ death by brutally restraining him prone on the ground and hogtying him like an animal until he stopped breathing, and the Defendant Guilford County EMS Paramedics, who were called to the scene, failed to intervene to protect Marcus from the use of unreasonable force and failed to promptly attend to his serious medical needs.”
Taylor said that they were suing for compensatory damages, but had not named an amount and that an apology from the city was “something that we would consider important.”
North Carolina unlike most states is a “contributory negligence state” which means if a person contributes even one percent at fault they are not entitled to any damages. According to the autopsy restraining Smith with the RIPP Hobble device was a contributing factor in his death, but so were the alcohol and drugs in his system including cocaine.
According to one attorney familiar with such cases because of the drugs in his system, under state law Smith’s family would not be entitled to any compensation.
The Greensboro City Council at its April 1 meeting indicated that at its April 16 meeting it would vote to authorize and independent investigation of Smith’s death. The lawsuit could affect the City Council’s decision on whether to move ahead with the investigation.