Suspect identified in Uptown police shooting; family demands video evidence | KSTP.com

Suspect identified in Uptown police shooting; family demands video evidence

Tommy Wiita
Updated: June 04, 2021 07:12 PM
Created: June 04, 2021 03:00 PM

Friends and family have confirmed the identity of the suspect shot and killed by law enforcement Thursday afternoon in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. 

Thirty-two-year-old Winston Smith, a local musician and YouTube personality, was killed after two sheriff's deputies — one each from Ramsey and Hennepin counties — shot him during an attempted warrant arrest regarding a suspected firearms violation. 

Winston was noted to perform under the name "Wince Me Boi" in the Twin Cities.

"That was my baby. He was 20 years old when he came to me," Dana O'Leary said. O'Leary is Smith's long-time manager. "He didn't deserve that," O'Leary said, with tears.

Michelle Hopkins, a long-time friend of Smith, says he had gone to eat at an Uptown restaurant earlier in the afternoon. She acknowledged she knew he had things related to the court system he was dealing with. 

"It sunk when he didn't call or text me back. I drove up to the parking ramp and sat there for two hours," Hopkins said. 

These two friends struggled to hear law enforcement's account and how there is no body camera video of the incident. What played out in the parking ramp is not how they want to remember Smith.

"He could sit down and write a song in 10 minutes. There was passion behind it, words had meaning," Hopkins added.

The deputies were acting on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service-led North Star Fugitive Task Force, a multi-agency task force that specializes in tracking down fugitives.

"What I want people to know is that [Smith] had a family and was just like everybody else," Kidale Smith, Winston's brother, said on Friday. "I'm not saying this is a perfect man. I'm not going to lie and say that he was all fruit and daisies ... the man was just trying to live his life."

9 arrested in overnight vandalism, looting in Uptown; suspect said to have fired weapon at police

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, evidence at the scene indicates Winston Smith fired his weapon from inside the vehicle before the deputies returned gunfire. A 27-year-old female passenger was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment of glass injuries sustained during the incident and has since been released. 

In another update Friday, the BCA said the USMS currently does not allow the use of body cameras for officers serving on the North Star Fugitive Task Force. There is no squad camera footage of the incident either, according to the BCA. It remains unclear if there was other surveillance in the area that captured the incident. 

"We want to see all the video, see the evidence. Like I said earlier — prove it," Kidale Smith said.

The BCA says it is in the early stages of the investigation.


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