Former Alabama officer Aaron Cody Smith killed Greg Gunn, an unarmed Black man, just outside of his residence where he lived with his mother in southern Alabama.
More than three years later, the former Montgomery Police Officer was found guilty of murder for Gunn's killing, The Montgomery Adviser reports. Smith faces up to 20 years in prison.
The shooting happened just miles away from Gunn's home around 3 a.m. on February 25, 2016. Fifty-eight-year-old Gregory Gunn was stopped by Smith for “routine training purposes.” After fleeing, Gunn was chased, beaten and tased by Smith in attempt to subdue him. The ex-cop later shot the victim multiple times, resulting in his death.
Defense attorneys for Smith claimed he feared for his life as he was patrolling in a “high-crime” area at night. He claimed his client recalled Gunn putting his hands in his pockets and walking faster once he pulled up behind him in his patrol car. The officer also alleges that the deceased victim may have threatened Smith’s life after arming himself with a paint pole from a neighbor’s front yard during the dispute.
A toxicology report determined that Mr. Gunn was under the influence of alcohol but no weapons were found in the victim's possession. Prosecutors insisted that Smith carelessly escalated what should have been a routine stop between Gunn to a deadly encounter. Once Smith was found guilty of manslaughter, he was immediately taken into custody.
The chances of a police officer in the United States being charged and convicted of murder are statistically low.
Prior to Smith's conviction, only 19 American police officers in total have been found guilty of murder. Former Dallas officer, Amber Guyger being the most recent. She was convicted on October 1, 2019 for the murder of 26-year-old Botham Jean. Guyger told authorities that on September 6, 2018, she entered Jean's apartment, mistaking it for her own. After believing him to be an intruder, she shot and killed the victim for not obeying her commands.
In the case of Smith, members of the jury deliberated for nearly two hours before coming to a unanimous decision on the charge of manslaughter. Over a dozen of Gunn’s family members remained standing as the verdict was announced. Montgomery County District Attorney Darryl Bailey also announced verdict via Twitter stating they will ask for the maximum sentence in the case.
As for the Gunn family, they feel they can finally bring closure to this tragic situation after waiting more than three years.
“I believe we have seen the best of Alabama today,” said Franklin Gunn, Greg Gunns brother.
Smith will remain in police custody until his sentencing date which has yet to be confirmed.
A new study states African American men are 2.5 more times as likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.They determined that an estimated 1-in-1000 black boys and men will be murdered by police in their lifetime. For white males that number pales in comparison at 39 out of 1000