Police Abuse

Cop Arrested for Murder in Montgomery, Ala., City Opens Own Investigation to Placate Police

Aaron Smith was arrested for murder after shooting an unarmed man he said looked "suspicious."

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The mayor of Montgomery has vowed to have the police department's internal affairs unit review evidence in the shooting of an unarmed Gregory Gunn by Officer Aaron Smith after Smith was arrested for the murder of Gunn.

The city handed the case over to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), and Mayor Todd Strange still says that was the right decision. "We will not interfere with investigation," Strange said, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, which has been covering the shooting. "This is simply a review that can be done now to hopefully provide our people—our officers who are out there every day—provide them with some answers."

The city's other "people," actual residents, staged protests over the shooting. Police apologists insist the case should have went to a grand jury but the district attorney, Daryl Bailey, points out what happened "followed the normal pattern.

"If people will stop and think about this, there are many, many crimes, and several murders, every year, and in pretty much all of them, when the police identify a suspect and find probable cause to charge that person with a crime, they make the arrest," Bailey said. "It doesn't wait and go to the grand jury. This followed the normal pattern. We said we were going to treat this like any other case and that's what we've done."

City investigators won't have access to body camera footage or other recordings, which were handed over to SBI, and will rely only on written reports and testimony available to the department.

"(Cops) are unhappy, they are concerned, they are upset," the mayor said. "One of their brother officers has been arrested and they have no answers. They are accustomed to gathering the answers and solving these sorts of questions, and so they're in a very difficult position of not knowing.

The Advertiser also reported on rumors that the chief of police, Ernest Finley, was close to resigning. Mayor Strange addressed those too. "I called him and asked him," Strange said. "He was in the field walking neighborhoods. He asked how could these people be so vindictive. He told me he was taking notes on things that could be done to fix some problems once all of this died down."

Strange did not specify the kind of "fixes" Finley had in mind for strained community-police relations but steps by the Montgomery Police Department (MPD) so far don't offer much hope. The mayor, the police chief, and the city's director of public safety held meetings with Smith as well as the Gunn family. A photo of a smiling Finley meeting with Smith made its way to MPD's Facebook page with the hashtag #itsoktohitthelikebutton. The photo was removed after backlash, then returned without the hashtags in the description.

"Look through the archives at your paper and see if you can find a photo of the chief of police standing and smiling beside any other person who has been recently arrested for murder," the Gunn family's attorney told the Advertiser.

The unarmed Gunn, who was 58, was walking home late at night from a card game when Smith shot him in front of his neighbor's house. Smith insisted Gunn was acting "suspiciously" but did not elaborate. There will be a probable cause hearing on March 24.

NEXT: More Than 400 Arrests in 'Operation Traveling Circus'

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  1. (Cop) are unhappy, they are concerned, they are upset,” the mayor said. “One of their brother officers has been arrested and they have no answers. They are accustomed to gathering the answers and solving these sorts of questions, and so they’re in a very difficult position of not knowing.

    They’re pissed they’re not in the position to whitewash the incident.

    1. They don’t have answers. It’s not like they keep the public in the dark when they do an investigation.

    2. Oh, they have an answer, in black and white:

      “This cop is being treated like any other citizen.”

      They just don’t like the answer they have.

  2. Dude looks like a psychopath. Also, where muh alt text?!?

    1. Have you tried hovering your mouse over the image? Because that usually does it.

      1. I comment on a phone. Usually when I press on the image, it gives me alt text. This picture does not.

  3. “One of their brother officers has been arrested and they have no answers. They are accustomed to gathering the answers and solving these sorts of questions, and so they’re in a very difficult position of not knowing.”

    So you are saying they are now getting a taste of what it feels like to be a civilian under police investigation?

    “He asked how could these people be so vindictive.”

    An innocent man is dead, I don’t think wanting to make him stand trial counts as vindictive.

    I think this police dept isn’t putting good reasons forward of why it shouldn’t be investigated and put under better management.

  4. “”(Cops) are unhappy, they are concerned, they are upset,” the mayor said. “One of their brother officers has been arrested and they have no answers. They are accustomed to gathering the answers and solving these sorts of questions, and so they’re in a very difficult position of not knowing.”

    The level of entitlement on display here is astonishing.

  5. “I called him and asked him,” Strange said. “He was in the field walking neighborhoods. He asked how could these people be so vindictive. He told me he was taking notes on things that could be done to fix some problems once all of this died down.”

    I’ll just bet he was walking through the town coming up with a list of problems to be fixed and how to fix them once all this dies down. I’m guessing the Gunn family is items 1 through 10 on that list of things he’s planning to fix.

  6. This paragraph from the linked article is telling:

    Strange also said the information gathered, should any be revelatory, will be offered for use in any court proceedings. The first foray into a courtroom for the case is scheduled currently for March 24, when Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey and SBI will have to provide evidence of the probable cause that they say led to Smith’s arrest.

    So basically they’re going to be playing defense investigator, and looking for anything they can to help him get acquitted. Which of course they do for any non-cop, right

    1. Cops are in a unique position when they go to court. Not only are they presumed innocent, but both the prosecution and their defense are acting on their behalf.

      1. … acting on their behalf. And scared of being murdered by the perp and/or other cops in the unlikely event justice is accidentally served.

  7. The dude’s name is Gunn. Does it get any more suspicious than that?

    1. He had a name! He made a move!

  8. “(Cops) are unhappy, they are concerned, they are upset,” the mayor said. “One of their brother officers has been arrested and they have no answers. They are accustomed to gathering the answers and solving these sorts of questions, and so they’re in a very difficult position of not knowing.

    I can understand how frustrating all of this must be. Hopefully the foxes will eventually get some sort of answers as to what’s going on inside the hen house.

  9. The unarmed Gunn, who was 58, was walking home late at night from a card game when Smith shot him in front of his neighbor’s house. Smith insisted Gunn was acting “suspiciously” but did not elaborate.

    I presume union rules don’t demand he has to elaborate.

    1. Technical question:

      Typically, making any statement under oath regarding a crime of which you are accused is a waiver of your right against self-incrimination.

      Cops make statements under oath all the time, or at least in an official capacity. I wonder if that statement that Gunn was acting suspiciously is a waiver of his rights?

      1. It’s a good question. My problem is that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the details and statements made by officers appear (to me at least) to be made in an employer/employee context, under which Union rules are in full force. Because higher standards.

      2. Silly wabbit. Rules don’t apply to the people who enforce them.

  10. As for Montgomery’s Facebook page: There are 4 comments to the picture with the murdered man’s mother, 3 of which laud the police. There are zero comments to the picture with the cop/murderer, and 62 reactions, either “like” or “love”. Seems like someone’s been sanitizing their page.

    1. Any facebook members care to leave a comment or two, and see what happens to them? The comments, I mean.

      1. I just left this totally non-sarcastic comment:

        MPD, I’m looking around, and I can’t see any other pictures of the chief smiling with someone who’s been arrested for murder. An oversight, I’m sure. Can you help?

        I’ll let you know what happens to it.

  11. A salivary spectacle of cowardice foams at the face hole of this pithless Mayor who marvelously expresses the weak-kneed governmental bullshit beloved by the suited sobbing whiners who run the F.O.P.

  12. Smith insisted Gunn was acting “suspiciously”

    So, good shoot. Smooches, hth.

    /derphy

  13. The Advertiser also reported on rumors that the chief of police, Ernest Finley, was close to resigning.

    Sounds good. Don’t let the door hit you.

  14. And I am sure he will get off scott free, they always do!

    http://www.Anon-Net.tk

  15. Um… Alabama? Freckly white trigger-happy cop. Just out of curiosity, was the murder victim dark-skinned?

    1. You had to ask?

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