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Willie Smith's trial continued to gather evidence

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | 12:07 p.m. CDT; updated 10:24 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 19, 2009

COLUMBIA — The attorney for Willie Smith was granted a continuance Tuesday morning to have more time to obtain video of Smith's arrest in March at the scene of a burglary alarm investigation.

Smith was first charged with resisting arrest after an incident March 9 in which an alarm went off at Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ Restaurant. Smith, who owns the cleaning service Magic Services Inc., was cleaning next door at Bella Salon at about 5 a.m.

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Smith’s attorney, David Tyson Smith (no relation), said after proceedings in the 13th Circuit Court for Boone County that he is trying to obtain video of the incident and finds it odd there is none.

“It’s hard to fathom that there were so many police cars and yet they have no video,” David Tyson Smith said.

He said that he had obtained an audio recording of his client's interaction with police after he was placed in a police car, but it didn't fulfill the purpose of determining what happened before and during the arrest. He said the recording contains a conversation in which Willie Smith, who was "fairly calm," tells officers he did not do anything wrong.

David Tyson Smith said he is trying to obtain video of the parking lot from a nearby business.

In a probable cause statement,  Columbia Police Officer Robert Fox says that Willie Smith refused to comply with police commands to keep his hands visible, keeping them folded under his armpits and leading the officers to believe he had a weapon. The statement says that Willie Smith refused arrest by physical force and that Fox used pepper spray on him.

Willie Smith accused officers of not taking the time to find out why he was in the parking lot and using excessive force in arresting him, for which he filed a formal complaint against police on March 12.

Police spokeswoman Jessie Haden said the internal investigation is ongoing but anticipates it should be complete in about a week.

Outside the courtroom, Willie Smith said he no longer trusts the police department and felt he had to go through the courts. He said he was offered a plea deal but that he wanted to plead not guilty to the charges so the public would know what really happened.

“This has to be told, people have to know,” he said in an interview Monday. “Who’s going to protect the people from the protectors?”

Judge Larry Bryson granted the continuance, but no new trial date has been set.


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