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What led up to Winston Smith's encounter with law enforcement?

In a February Instagram post, Smith discusses how he had thoughts of dying by police gunfire rather than go to prison but said he tried to keep a positive mindset.

MINNEAPOLIS — Facts are in dispute concerning the death of Winston Smith between the woman who was in the car with him and the agency investigating.

"She never saw a gun on Winston Smith, and she never saw a gun inside the vehicle at any time," said attorney Racey Rodne.

The woman through her attorney says there was no gun - while the BCA says they collected a "handgun as well as spent cartridge cases from inside the driver's compartment" after Smith shot first.

Many questions remain about what led up to the shooting - but here is what can be pieced together with court records and social media posts.

According to court records, Smith pleaded guilty in 2018 to 1st Degree Aggravated Robbery for an attack on his ex-girlfriend, and he received probation and a suspended sentence.

Then in December 2019 he was charged with having a handgun in violation of his probation and terms of his prior conviction.

Court transcripts show he reluctantly agreed to a plea deal in November 2020 that would send him to prison for four years. At one point he said "I don't think this is fair." 

Smith later tried to withdraw his guilty plea but the judge denied the request.

Court records say Smith missed his sentencing date in May and this warrant was issued, leading to the U.S. Marshals task force trying to arrest him.

In a video posted to Smith's Instagram account in February, he discusses his upcoming prison term. 

"I'm like, four years? I would rather die. My mind is not right. I'm like, I'm ready to die, for my freedom. Because I feel like they're not treating me fair. I feel like the situation is that it was a gun somewhere around me. And they want me to do four years because of that. I didn't have the gun. I didn't shoot nobody. I didn't kill nobody," Smith said.

Smith explains in the video that he is shaken after watching video of the police shooting of Dolal Idd, who was killed in December 2020 after allegedly firing at officers first through his car window.

"I'm really thinking like this is how I want to go out. This is how I want to go out. I'm thinking, four years, f*** that, let them see I'm a gangsta. You know what I'm saying? Let them see I'll die for this s***. All this wrong mindset, you know what I'm saying?" Smith says.

Smith then goes onto say that he tries to keep the right mindset by remembering that dying would do nothing good for him.

"If you think like that, stop thinking like that," Smith said.

Without video footage of the shooting - very few people know exactly how the entire incident played out.