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A ‘Massive Cover-Up,’ A Second Shooter, and a Community in Fear: Seeking the Truth Behind Charles Smith’s Killing

“Are you ready to die?”

That’s the chilling question that some eyewitnesses say officer David Jannot asked 29-year-old Charles Smith before fatally shooting the then-handcuffed Savannah resident.

There still hasn’t been much concrete evidence to explain what happened moments before Smith was fatally shot in September by police officers in Savannah, Georgia, but eyewitness accounts of the incident suggest a very different scene unfolded than the one authorities are describing.

According to Chadrick Mance, the Smith family’s attorney, several eyewitness accounts have been kept out of the media spotlight—including reports that a second officer shot Smith, multiple gun wounds appeared to exit through the front of Smith’s body and the officers’ “intrusive” reputation in the community.

There were a “street full of people that saw it,” Mance said of the shooting that occurred in broad daylight.

Some of the witnesses were estimated to be as close as 20 feet away.

“They were saying that he had no gun and he was handcuffed and the officer asked him, ‘Are you ready to die?’ before he shot him,” Mance said during an interview with Atlanta Blackstar.

Perhaps the most frightening eyewitness accounts involve reports of a second officer who shot Smith.

“They were saying he was shot by two officers and we informed the media of that,” Mance added.

Unfortunately, major media headlines have made no mention of the reports of a second officer who may have also pulled the trigger on Smith.

Even after relaying the information from eyewitness reports to the city attorney, Mance said the police department seemed to show no interest in investigating the possibility of another officer being involved.

The department is also not interested in offering an explanation as to how Smith managed to be in possession of a firearm after being searched by officers up to four times.

Charles smith surveillance Surveillance footage captured at least one officer performing a pat down on Smith before placing him in the car.

While the media has barely made mention of the details from multiple eyewitness reports, several major headlines have been openly tarnishing Smith’s reputation.

Stories have reported that Smith allegedly had a violent past and were quick to mention his criminal history.

What the headlines didn’t capture, according to the local community, were Smith’s more redeeming qualities.

Residents shared their accounts of Smith with Mance and described him as a selfless person who was always considerate of others.

“From the beginning there was this commonly employed media strategy to kind of depict this guy as a deviant,” Mance said. “This guy would take all of the kids in the neighborhood to the store and buy them candy when their parents couldn’t afford it.”

In addition to giving candy to local children, some members of the community say Smith also helped some families keep a roof over their heads.

“He helped people pay rent,” Mance added. “I don’t know of many people that would do that, but [media wasn’t] interested.”

While Smith’s reputation was put on display for the world to judge, Officer Jannot’s reputation was never brought to the public’s attention.

To the press, Jannot was a 10-year veteran of the department.

Residents in the community, however, described the officer as threatening and “intrusive.”

Years of a threatening authoritative presence in the community is exactly what may have stifled protesters.

While protests and marches have still taken place in Savannah, they have not managed to match the sheer size and volume of protests that took over the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson.

Without larger demonstrations it became nearly impossible to garner large-scale media attention surrounding the case.

Charles Smith protests in Savannah Mance made it clear, however, that there are people who want to speak out and want their voices to be heard—but are afraid to do so.

“Most of the people that are participating in the protests are ex-offenders or have some sort of criminal activity associated with their past,” Mance explained. “What’s happening is their probation officers are telling them, ‘Look, you better not march or we’re going to arrest you.’ “

When some ex-offenders did show up to protests, probation officers took down their tag numbers.

“They’ll come up with warrants for no reason,” he said.

Mance also informed ABS that one of the organizers of the protests may have been targeted by someone who wanted to keep the city quiet.

The organizer had recently been deeded a building but the building was burned down just days before last weekend’s protest.

According to Mance, many of the events unfolding in Savannah are a part of a “massive cover up.”

For now, however, he just wants communities across the nation to remain vigilant and get involved in pushing for answers.

“If we are who we say we are—if we are outraged at injustice then an injustice at our backdoor would be tantamount to an emergency,” he said. “Every concerned citizen—Black, white, rich, poor, Savannah, Atlanta, doesn’t matter—has a stake in this.”

An autopsy has been arranged for Smith but the results have not yet been released to the public.


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