At nearly every public comment period at City Council meetings for the past several years there have been speakers about Marcus Deon Smith, who died on Sept. 8, 2018 after being restrained by Greensboro police officers.
At the June 15 City Council meeting, in a prepared statement, City Attorney Chuck Watts responded to some of the allegations frequently made by those speakers.
The parents of Marcus Smith, Mary and George Smith, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Greensboro, Guilford County and the individual city and county employees who were involved in the incident.
That lawsuit is the topic of many of the public comments and the statement by Watts addressed some of the concerns raised by speakers.
One of those accusations is that the city is refusing to release information to the public about the case. Watts said that the city is not releasing documents related to the lawsuit because there is a court order that prohibits such release. Watts said that the rules to release information disclosed in the discovery phase of the litigation were negotiated between the two parties, and the court approved those agreed upon rules in a “Protective Order” that prohibits the release of those documents until they are filed publicly with the court.
Watts said that the city had filed a motion with the court regarding the disclosure of discovery material by the plaintiffs and was waiting for the court to address the matter.
Watts also spoke about the constant demand from speakers at City Council meetings that the city settle the case.
Watts said, “The City has engaged in settlement discussions in good faith, but has not as of yet been able to reach an agreement.”
He also noted that the settlement discussions are confidential. Watts said, “Unfortunately, bits and pieces of those discussions have become public. I would caution anyone from thinking that these bits and pieces of information allow anyone not involved in these discussions to have any real understanding of the parties’ positions on what might be acceptable to resolve the case or what transpired during the mediation process.”