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Passenger in SUV with Winston Smith to file civil rights lawsuit

Norhan Askar, who claims to have been in the vehicle with Winston Smith at the time of the shooting, claims law enforcement never identified themselves.

MINNEAPOLIS — The passenger who was inside the vehicle with Winston Smith intends to file a civil rights lawsuit against all agencies involved in US Marshals’ North Star Fugitive Task Force that shot and killed Smith.

On Thursday afternoon, attorneys announced their intentions to file a lawsuit on behalf of Norhan Askar, who claims to have been in the SUV with Smith when he was killed. Smith was shot by two deputies in an Uptown parking ramp. Authorities have previously said they were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Smith, who had missed a sentencing hearing where he was due to serve a four-year prison term.

In a statement through her attorneys, Askar said the law enforcement officers were not in uniform and did not identify themselves as authorities when they surrounded the SUV with their guns drawn.

According to two search warrants, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agents collected a Smith and Wesson M&P 380 handgun from the front driver side of the SUV. They also collected six Blazer 380 Auto cartridge cases from the driver's side, center console and passenger side in the front of the vehicle.

Attorneys also claimed the BCA did not conduct a gunshot residue test on Smith. A BCA spokesperson told KARE 11 in a statement that their lab doesn't do gunshot residue testing because it doesn't provide "conclusive evidence" about whether a gun was handled or fired, particularly if a gun was fired in close proximity inside of a vehicle.

There's no body-worn camera footage of the arrest and shooting because the U.S. Marshal Service didn't allow task force members to use their body cameras.

The Marshal's service announced last October that task force members from state and local law enforcement agencies could start using body cameras, but the footage would be owned and controlled by the U.S. Marshals. That policy change had yet to be implemented here in Minnesota when Smith was killed.

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