An off-duty police officer exited a Chicago apartment building on Jan. 18 to find herself in the middle of a fierce dispute. While her initial efforts to prompt the four persons involved to "calm down" were reportedly successful, the fight evidently wasn't over for Leevon Smith, though it soon would be.
No idle threat
Private surveillance footage of the incident that ensued on Chicago's south side in Washington Heights was released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
Four men had been arguing about possibly stolen property.
A 911 call placed earlier captured one individual claim, "Just give me my bag back, bro," reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
A 25-year-old off-duty female officer walked outside an apartment building, tied her hair back, and managed to negotiate an armistice.
After the other men took their leave, Smith, 39, can be heard on video telling the officer that he lost money in the ruckus.
The officer appeared to commiserate then motioned him to return inside. However, as she passed Smith on the way to the door, he muttered, "Bitch," then tackled her from behind, ostensibly reaching for her firearm.
The officer can be heard cautioning Smith, "I'll kill you."
Smith appeared unphased by the officer's warning, responding, "You got to kill me then."
Finally, after repeated warnings that she would employ lethal force to defend herself, the officer said, "Watch this," and opened fire.
The two fell to the ground, battling for control of the weapon.
Smith finally yelled out, "You got me, you got me."
"I told your dumb ass, I'd kill you," the officer responded, firing a a third and final shot.
"I'm sorry," Smith says. "I'm sorry ... I don't want to die."
The off-duty officer called out to onlookers and passersby to "call the police ... I just shot someone."
Directing her attention back to Smith, the officer said, "You thought I was playing. I told you I'll shoot you," before underscoring that she had originally been trying to help him.
The final arrest report stated that Smith "grabbed the victim from behind," and "grabbed her firearm that was on her person in an attempt to disarm her."
The officer's three gunshots had managed to strike Smith in the abdomen and in the left hand.
Smith was taken into custody and transported to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Despite receiving medical treatment, he succumbed to his wounds the morning of Jan. 20.
Prior to his death, Cook County prosecutors approved felony charges against Smith. The Sun-Times indicated he had been charged with attempted robbery and aggravated battery.
The original case incident report indicated that the officer suffered only minor injuries.
COPA Chicago made the video of the incident available, but the audio is not properly synchronized. Note, the footage is graphic:
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