Aptos, CA — Luke Smith, a sophomore at Aptos High School, was fatally shot by police over the weekend while he was allegedly high on LSD. His death was a tragedy and has shocked the community.
The entire interaction between police and Smith was captured on multiple body cameras. The video shows approximately a dozen police officers surround Smith as he held a knife, and shoot him at least 6 times with 40mm less lethal rounds, 2 times with a taser, 2 times siccing the K9 on him, and one time shooting him with an AR15.
Smith died at the scene as officers performed life-saving procedures.
According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart, Smith’s family called 9-1-1 earlier in the night after Smith took some LSD. The Aptos High student took LSD with a friend earlier that night, Hart said, as reported by KSBW. The friend told investigators that Smith took a larger dose than he did.
Smith’s girlfriend, Celine Rivera, and sister, Savannah Smith, told reporters that Smith is a loving boy who loved life and after taking the LSD, he acted dramatically out of character.
Savannah explained that her brother had experimented with recreational drugs plenty of times in the past and never became violent. However, this time, Savannah believes he took “a bad batch of LSD.”
Savannah Smith wrote on Facebook,
“There is a bad batch of LSD circulating throughout the area. This batch of LSD made my brother extremely violent and ended with the police shooting him. Nothing could stop him from what he was doing, because he wasn’t himself; this drug brought out some form of evil in him. Luke Smith was, and still is, the funniest, happiest, most loved kid in the county. He brought a smile to everyone’s face and emitted nothing but good vibes. He could befriend anyone, which he often did. No matter how experienced you are, you cannot control substances; at a certain point, substances control you.”
The reason police were called out to the residence that night was due to the fact that Smith became violent while on the LSD, and the teen attacked his uncle and father with a knife.
“He just stabbed me in the heart. My nephew. Hurry please hurry. I’m bleeding out,” the uncle told 911 dispatchers.
So, the police in the video below were dealing with a known threat.
When police confront an armed suspect holding a knife, they usually bark commands at high volume and scream and escalate as quickly as possible. However, during this incident, that was not the case.
Deputy Chris Vigil can be heard on his body camera calmly talking to Smith in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
“LSD is a tough thing because it’s hard to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not,” Vigil told Smith. “Put the knife down buddy.”
But Smith refused.
As the moments passed, Smith tried to hide and it was at this point that the force was escalated. Surrounded by police, Smith was entirely unresponsive to the less lethal attempts by police and so a K9 was released.
As the K9 struggled to bring Smith down, Smith pulled away at which point deputy Vigil fired a single round from his AR15. The K9 was released again and mauled the teen further as he bled out from the bullet wound in his chest.
Up until the firing of the AR15, police arguably did everything by the book and their calm attitudes definitely deserve to be taken into account. That being said, it appears that the AR15 shot was entirely unnecessary. The other officers on the scene also appeared to voice their confusion and concern as to why the shot was fired, at the end of the video.
According to Hart, Vigil is now the subject of an investigation and he released the body camera footage to uphold his promise to be transparent.
“We are public officers. It was a promise I made when we transitioned to 21st Century Policing and purchased the body cameras,” Hart said.
“Everyone loses in cases like this,” Hart said. “This was a very unique, difficult, upsetting situation. It’s hard for me to watch this video. Luke Smith was a great kid. He was well liked by everyone.”
The video below is heart-wrenching.
It is important to note that when the production of such a delicate substance like LSD is pushed into the unchecked black market by the war on drugs, a dangerous side-effect is the inevitable “bad batch.”
The infamous “bad batch” of LSD has been around as long as the war on drugs. However, much of these newer ‘bad batches’ may not even be LSD. 25I-NBOMe has similar effects to LSD and is often sold as LSD. However, its users report more negative effects while under the influence and more risk of harm following its use as compared to other classic psychedelics.
If the manufacture, sale, and ingestion of these substances weren’t pushed into dark allies by the war on drugs, Luke Smith might still be alive today.