‘He was tied up like an animal’: Family of man who died while in Greensboro police custody demand answers

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The family of Marcus Smith is demanding more answer about his death.

In September, Greensboro police told us a disoriented and suicidal man ran in and out of traffic along Church Street. According to the department’s news release, while officers were trying to take Smith for a mental evaluation, he became combative and collapsed. He later died at the hospital.

Smith’s family is now saying that story is misleading.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the family’s attorney described what he saw happen on the body camera footage. He said police hogtied Smith and then stood around talking to each other before noticing he couldn’t breathe. He then said an officer said, ‘Untie him.’

“He was tied up like an animal,” said Kim Suber, Smith’s sister.

Her family is angry and heartbroken.

“Being a mother… this is pain I have to endure for the rest of your life,” said Mary Smith, Smith's mom.

The family said Smith, a 38-year-old father of three, had a health crisis when officers restrained him using a technique called hogtying.

“Have you ever seen a bull riding show where the pull is tied up by his hands and feet? Image your loved one taking his last breath with his hands and feet tied behind his back and not under arrest,” Suber said.

Now, the family and several community organizations are demanding Greensboro city council members watch the body camera footage, publicly respond to it and take action if necessary.

They also want the video made public and for the city to review its policies regarding the practice of hogtying.

“No human should be treated this way,” Suber said.

“I knew Marcus was never suicidal. He was my friend, my child,” Mary Smith said.

Family and friends say Smith regularly visited the Interactive Resource Center in Greensboro.

Michelle Kennedy is the executive director there. She also sits on the Greensboro City Council and believes council members have a duty to get involved, but only after the appropriate steps are taken and the police community review board looks at it.

“Anytime someone has lost a loved one they deserve to know exactly what happened whether it bodes well for the city of Greensboro or our officers,” Kennedy said. “If it does, that's great. If it doesn't, then there are issues we need to resolve and the way you resolve that is with true transparency with the citizens of Greensboro.”

The criminal investigation into what happened is not over yet. Right now, the SBI is waiting on a toxicology report to help determine the cause of death.

Greensboro police did, however, put the four officers that made contact with Smith back on full duty following an internal investigation.