Marcus Smith “Died Like an Animal” When Cops Hogtied Him. Police Have Known for Decades It Can Kill

Despite decades of warnings against the practice, police departments across the country continue to hogtie people during arrests, sometimes with fatal results. On September 8, 2018, Marcus Smith, a 38-year-old homeless Black man in Greensboro, North Carolina, was facing a mental health crisis and asked police officers for help. Instead, eight white officers brutally and fatally hogtied him. Police videos show officers pushed Smith face down on the street and tied a belt around his ankles, then attached it to his cuffed hands so tightly that his knees were lifted off the pavement. Smith’s family filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging wrongful death, accusing the police department of a cover-up. “The Greensboro Police Department, spearheaded by the chief of police at that time, watched the video and then chose to put out a press release that … ignored and left out the crucial factor that he was hogtied,” says Flint Taylor, one of the lawyers for the Smith family and a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. We also speak with Marshall Project reporter Joseph Neff, who says there is little data about instances of police hogtying. “It’s hard to know how extensive it is, because there’s no reporting requirement,” he says.

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Despite decades of warnings against the practice, police departments across the country continue to hogtie people during arrests, sometimes with fatal results. On September 8, 2018, Marcus Smith, a 38-year-old homeless Black man in Greensboro, North Carolina, was facing a mental health crisis and asked police officers for help. Instead, eight white officers brutally and fatally hogtied him. Police videos show officers pushed Smith face down on the street and tied a belt around his ankles, then attached it to his cuffed hands so tightly that his knees were lifted off the pavement. Smith’s family filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging wrongful death, accusing the police department of a cover-up. “The Greensboro Police Department, spearheaded by the chief of police at that time, watched the video and then chose to put out a press release that … ignored and left out the crucial factor that he was hogtied,” says Flint Taylor, one of the lawyers for the Smith family and a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. We also speak with Marshall Project reporter Joseph Neff, who says there is little data about instances of police hogtying. “It’s hard to know how extensive it is, because there’s no reporting requirement,” he says.


This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.


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