MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Winston Smith’s family and activists groups stood outside the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension building in St. Paul Friday afternoon demanding the BCA release any video footage of the shooting to the public and the Smith family.
“We refuse to believe that no one has video footage, after all those different departments showed up yesterday. We want transparency and we demand it now,” said Toshira Garraway.
Smith’s sister Tieshia Floyd spoke about who her brother was to her.
“My brother was kind, no he wasn’t perfect, none of us are. He was trying to turn over a new leaf but they took that away from him. They’re using his past, to tarnish his character,” said Floyd.
Later Friday night, a group shut down the intersection of Lake Street and Girard Avenue for the second night in a row to hold a vigil for Smith.
The group made their way to the top floor of the parking ramp where Smith was shot by a U.S. Marshals task force Thursday afternoon, laying flowers and candles all over the ramp.
Smith’s brother spoke at the memorial, saying he wants it to remain as-is.
“This area, the top of this roof, is my brother’s memorial, help me protect that alright,” said Kidale Smith.
Smith’s close friends say he loved music, comedy, and making people laugh. He was a father of three.
“This man had a family, and he’s just like anybody else,” said Kidale Smith. Winston Smith had two daughters and one son.
One of his daughters, 7-year-old Jah’niyah Rogers said she misses her father.
“Suddenly my dad died and I could feel the pain from my brain to my heart and then I just wish my dad comes back soon,” Rogers said.
“You know he love you and he’ll always be with you and he’s with you right now and you just gotta be great, you gotta be good and make your daddy happy you know,” said Rogers’ mother, Capritieshay Rogers.
Smith’s social media posts show he had just finished having lunch on the rooftop of Stella’s Fish Cafe, just across the street.
Kidale Smith says he also wants to know more about the law enforcement officials involved in the shooting.
“I want names, I want faces, I want experience history, I want all of that,” he said.
There was a warrant out for Smith’s arrest after he failed to appear for a felony firearm conviction in Ramsey County on May 19. According to court records, Smith also failed to appear for a probation violation on May 5 for a 2017 aggravated robbery conviction. His four-year sentence in that case was stayed and he was out on probation. Smith was also facing an upcoming trial in September for allegedly fleeing a police officer last fall.
But his friends and family say a warrant for his arrest should not have led to the end of his life.
“He was on a date, he wasn’t out here doing anything wrong. He was in a public place with a lot of people around. Give him time to surrender,” said Waylon Hughes.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation of fatal shooting. They say evidence indicates Smith fired his gun from inside the car. BCA also says U.S. Marshals task force does not allow for the use of body camera footage, and there is no squad car footage of the incident. The U.S. Department of Justice says that in February of 2021 the Marshals Service began to implement a new policy to allow task force officers to use body cameras. DOJ says the policy continues to be phased in, including in Minnesota.