Lawyer Said His Client Had ‘Right’ To Fight Police

Photo Courtesy: Edwin Lindo

The San Francisco public defender will argue that an African American man charged with battery and resisting arrest in connection with a scuffle with BART officers had every right to fight police — a legal strategy that comes amid heightened scrutiny over police use of force and issues of race.

Videos of the July confrontation that were posted on social media showed one of the officers apparently punching a handcuffed Michael Smith, 22, whom police had detained in response to reports of an armed man trying to rob someone on a BART train. Prosecutors say the videos tell an incomplete story and that body cameras worn by police show that Smith was kicking and spitting at BART officers.

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Jury selection is scheduled to begin Friday in Smith’s trial on six counts of battery on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest. Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who will represent Smith personally, said he will make what amounts to an argument of self-defense.

“His actions were necessary in order for him to save his life,” Adachi said. “This was a situation where the officers really made assumptions about him and acted too swiftly.”

The incident happened just before 1 p.m. on July 29 as BART officers responded to the Embarcadero Station to reports that an armed man was trying to rob a passenger on a train.

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  1. Feelingreat

    It would be nice to just let robbers rob until they are shot by the “wrong” victim. But that is not how it works. Officers also have a responsible of returning home at the end of shift. And if that means taking a cheap shot at a suspect then so be it. HOWEVER taken a cheap shot of a suspect that is handcuffed is not within the scope of going home at night, safe and sound. That is taking the suspects actions personally.

  2. CMRocks10001

    Typical response by law enforcement. Assault and detain innocent people with no evidence of a crime, in violation of the 4th amendment. This is behavior only terrorist groups would engage in. They have no respect for the law. Police are famous for their violent, criminal tendencies. I’m surprised they didn’t scream “Authoritahu Akbar.” This innocent man had every reason to fear for his life, and would have been justified if he’d shot every one of those cops.

  3. ahaz

    Acting in self defense against cops has become an increasingly common argument, especially homeowners firing at SWAT during late night raids. In fact, there was a case in Texas where the local prosecutor declined to charge the home owner because the DA believed that the owner believed he was defending his home and family against intruders during a no knock raid. This has caused police in many communities and law makers to effect laws that restrict the times that police can conduct raids; and that’s a good thing. It protects the officer and most importantly the citizen from mistakes. As the public become more distrustful of police and the amount of violence that US police have a propensity for, I would expect this defense to be used even more.

  4. ChiefD

    Typical response from a public defender. Instead of pleading him out to just one or two offenses, try to blame the police.

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