Yesterday we reported that the death of popular KMOJ DJ Quincy Smith was ruled a homicide caused by cardiorespiratory arrest, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner. Smith, known as "Q the Blacksmith" on air, died after police used a Taser gun on him during an altercation in December.
The altercation began at 2 a.m. on July 13, 2005 when Smith witnessed a friend being arrested and repeatedly inquired why his friend was being arrested, according to the appellate court opinion. When he ignored several police orders to step back, Smith was arrested.
Smith contended that despite his compliance, police handcuffed him and threw him to the ground, while police contended Smith resisted arrest and refused to be handcuffed. Both parties agreed that during the resulting struggle, Smith was "taken to the ground, kicked in the shoulder, kneed in the side, maced, punched and subjected to multiple cycles of electrical shock from a Taser." Smith was charged with obstruction of the legal process with force. He was later acquitted by a jury.
Smith sued the department for assault, battery and false arrest. In an October 2007 summary judgment, Hennepin County District Court Judge John Holahan ruled in favor of the officers, citing "official immunity" that provides that officers "should be able to "perform their duties effectively, without fear of personal liability that might inhibit the exercise of their independent judgment."Less than a month before his death, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court should not have dismissed the lawsuit because a jury, not a judge, should have determined who was at fault.