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Lawyer Said His Client Had ‘Right’ To Fight Police

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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