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County Prosecutor Says Police Officer Justified in Shooting Death of Kenneth Smith

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Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has ruled that city police officer Roger Jones was justified when he shot and killed Kenneth Smith in March 2012. An attorney for Smith’s family says they’ll push ahead with a wrongful death suit against Jones. Joanna Richards reports.

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 5:13 pm

In a letter to the city police chief, McGinty called Officer Jones “heroic” and said his actions protected the safety of the citizens of Cleveland.

McGinty concluded Jones shot Smith in self-defense as Smith reached for a gun. According to the prosecutor’s review, police had pursued a vehicle Smith was in after it left the scene of a shootout at East 9th Street and Bolivar Avenue. When confronted by police, two other people in the vehicle obeyed commands to get out with their hands up – but McGinty says Smith refused, then reached for a gun as Jones tried to pull him out.

"To say that he was heroic, and that he did a service to the citizens of Cleveland, is insane, based on what we know," said Terry Gilbert, the attorney for Smith’s family.

He disputes McGinty’s narrative of events. He says three college students in a nearby car saw Jones shoot Smith as he was on the ground, surrendering.

"We still have the civil suit going. The Justice Department is looking into this. So we’re not giving up on this idea of getting justice for Kenneth Smith and his family," Gilbert said.

The county prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately return calls on this story. It’s not clear how McGinty arrived at his ruling.

A friend of Smith’s family said they’re planning a vigil.