Greensboro council tables independent review of Marcus Smith case amid lawsuit

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Greensboro City Council was going to discuss an independent review of the Marcus Smith case Tuesday, but that discussion was tabled after two attorneys filed a lawsuit over the man's death in police custody.

"In light of the Smith family filing a lawsuit against the City of Greensboro, the City Council will table the discussion about the independent review," the city said in a news release.

The discussion was set to take place on Tuesday, but the city attorney recommended that the council allow the issue to be settled in the proper legal channels.

About seven months after the death of Marcus Smith, two attorneys filed a lawsuit against the City of Greensboro, eight police officers, Guilford County and two paramedics.

Greensboro attorney Graham Holt and civil rights attorney Flint Taylor of the People's Law Firm of Chicago filed the federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday.

The plaintiffs are Marcus Smith's parents Mary and George Smith.

The complaint alleges, "The defendant Greensboro Police Officers caused Marcus' death by brutally restraining him prone on the ground and hogtying him like an animal until he stopped breathing, and the Defendant Guilford County EMS Paramedics, who were called to the scene, failed to intervene to protect Marcus from the use of unreasonable force and failed to promptly attend to his serious medical needs."

Marcus Smith died while in police custody on Sept. 8, 2018.

Surveillance video released by police shows him frantically running around the 100 block of Church Street before being restrained by officers.

He was restrained using the maximum restraint method called RIPP Hobble, commonly known as hog-tying.

The medical examiner’s report revealed Smith death was due to the combination of drugs and heart disease. It also noted that the way he was restrained helped lead to cardiac arrest.

The district attorney said the officers involved demonstrated patience and did not find any wrongdoing on their part.

But Smith’s family believe otherwise.

“We want to get rid of the police chief because we feel like if he was so willing to try to cover up this death. There's tons that he's probably tried to cover up or did a cover-up,” said Kim Suber, Smith’s sister.

A group of more than 50 people made their way inside of the Greensboro City Council town hall meeting on April 1, the latest in a string of public acts calling for action in the wake of Marcus Smith's death.

Most of them voiced their concerns about the firing of the police chief and some sort of accountability to be held up against the officers involved.

The council plans to discuss the resolution of conducting an independent investigation at the next council meeting. They told the supporters that this would take research into what an independent investigation entails.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan previously announced the Greensboro Police Department would no longer use the RIPP Hobble method and is starting to explore new options for maximum restraint.

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