Gregory Gunn was shot and killed during the early morning hours of Feb. 25 on his way home from a card game in Montgomery, Alabama. Patrol officer Aaron “AC” Smith has been accused of murdering Gunn, who was reportedly unarmed.
Smith shot Gunn several times and has since been charged with his murder, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Smith was released on bail of $150,000, and Gunn’s mother, Nellie Ruth Gunn, hopes Smith will join her in church for her son’s funeral on March 5.
“I want [the officer] to go to church with me,” she told WGHP. “If it can’t be done, then well done and well good. But God knows and heaven knows.”
Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley told The Times-Picayune that Smith stopped to confront Gunn and an altercation ensued. It’s unclear why Smith believed Gunn was suspicious and he claimed that Gunn was armed with a pole or a stick, which hasn’t been confirmed.
Race has largely been cited as a factor in the case -- Gunn was black and Smith is white. Kenneth, Gunn’s brother, believes that’s why he was killed -- he said Smith only approached Gunn, “not because he was doing anything wrong, but because he was black. He was black at three in the morning.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said his office and the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation found “probable cause … to make an arrest,” although they haven’t said what the evidence was in this case.
Smith is still facing a grand jury trial, but his lawyer, Mickey McDermott, said the shooting was justified. “We’re sorry Mr. Gunn’s life was taken,” McDermott said, sanding alongside Smith. “But Mr. Gunn placed himself in a position to where this officer had to use the progressive levels of force that we train him in.”
Bailey said, “As district attorney, I will do everything in my power to protect a police officer who is operating within the law … I will also use every ounce of my power to prosecute a police officer who is acting outside the law.”
Authorities have started the process of firing Smith, but Gunn’s family is sympathetic. “I’ve been crying all day,” said Kimberly Gunn, the victim’s sister. “I lost my brother and now someone else is going to lose a son. It’s just sad.”