Chattanooga, TN — For fitting the description in the land of the free, police officers will claim the authority to violently pursue, harass, and initiate violence against you. Your innocence is of no consequence when it comes to police claiming you “look like a criminal.” In so many of the incidents on which TFTP reports, the majority of these cases involve innocent black men and cops have no problem laying waste to their rights.
Martel Smith is one of these men.
A video was shared with the Free Thought Project this week, showing officers detaining Smith, who had his children in the car. As the video shows, Smith is surrounded by heavily armed militarized U.S. Marshals who are pointing AR-15s at him and his kids in the back seat.
When Smith questioned their presence, he was dragged from the car and tasered. A woman with her family in the car at the gas pump next to Smith’s filmed the interaction. It was nothing short of insanity.
“What the hell are y’all on?” Smith yells at the cops who attacked him for no reason. “What the hell is this sh*t?”
Naturally, Smith is furious and gives the officers a piece of his mind for his utterly infuriating treatment. The woman filming had removed the children from his car and got them to safety in front of the gas station. They watch from a distance, terrified of what they are witnessing.
Smith had committed no crime. He had harmed no one, and he could have been murdered in front of his children because police thought he looked like someone else.
Activist Marie Mott posted the video online with the following description, “Family, enough has got to be enough. For Martel Smith to have guns drawn on him, handcuffed, tased, in front of his children is already wrong and he wasn’t even the right person. This is a violation of his civil rights, human rights, and presumption of innocence.”
The U.S. Marshal’s office also released a statement, admitting to their mistake but blaming Smith for the way he was treated.
“The U.S. Marshals Service is aware of the use of force incident that happened on September 3 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a less-than-lethal munition, a taser, was deployed on a citizen. The U.S. Marshals fugitive task force was trying to locate a dangerous, wanted fugitive at the time of the incident. The citizen fit the description of the fugitive, so task force members initiated a car stop. While removing the person from the vehicle, a brief struggle ensued and officers deployed a taser to bring the person safely under control. Regretfully, the citizen was not the wanted fugitive. Deputy U.S. Marshals immediately rendered aid and notified local emergency medical staff. The citizen appeared to be unharmed. The U.S. Marshals Service takes all injuries potentially arising from use-of-force very seriously. This unfortunate incident is currently being investigated.”
While this case is certainly maddening, unfortunately it is par for the course. In fact, TFTP reported on a glaring case of cops claiming a man fit the description just this week. The incident, that unfolded in Tempe, AZ which the mayor called “disturbing and disappointing” was captured on the offending officer’s body camera. The incident is now under investigation and the Tempe Police department said that are “sufficiently concerned about how Officer Ronald Kerzaya” handled the situation.
Officer Kerzaya was told by hotel staff that a white male wearing a black shirt and tan pants had just pointed a gun at hotel employees. Moments later, a black man, who is an employee at the hotel, wearing a light gray shirt and black pants, exited the through a door and Officer Kerzaya’s fear seemingly took over and he claimed that the employee “fit the description.”
That innocent man was held at gunpoint for over three minutes as Kerzay’s incompetence allowed the actual suspect, a white male, to escape.