MINNEAPOLIS — The undercover officers who fatally shot Winston "Boogie" Smith Jr. in Minneapolis last summer acted within their lawful authority and won't be charged in his death, the Crow Wing County attorney announced Monday, Oct. 11.

Smith failed to comply with the officers while exiting his vehicle and initiated "deadly force" by drawing his handgun and firing at task force members, Crow Wing County Attorney Donald Ryan said in a letter announcing his decision.

Smith was shot June 3 by members of the U.S. Marshals Service's Northstar Violent Offender Task Force, which was attempting to arrest him on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a gun.

Although the shooting occurred in Minneapolis, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman sent the case to Ryan, who is based in Brainerd, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Smith was shot in an SUV with a date atop a parking ramp in the 1400 block of West Lake Street across from Stella's Fish Cafe, where he had just dined and posted to social media about the experience. Smith had been building a small local following for his online comedy sketches. Several nights of public protest followed his shooting.

Kidale Smith, brother of Winston Smith, held a "Justice for Winston Smith" poster during a Thursday, June 10, 2021, news conference in Minneapolis. (Aaron Lavinsky/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
Kidale Smith, brother of Winston Smith, held a "Justice for Winston Smith" poster during a Thursday, June 10, 2021, news conference in Minneapolis. (Aaron Lavinsky/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the shooting and forwarded findings to the Crow Wing County attorney's office in late July.

A preliminary investigation indicated Smith was shot by two deputies — one from Hennepin County and one from Ramsey County — who were working on the task force.

The BCA initially issued a news release stating that Smith had fired a gun from inside the vehicle he was sitting in when he was shot. There is no body camera or squad car dashcam footage of the incident because none was in use.

A search warrant affidavit filed by investigators said several police gun cartridge casings were recovered from the scene and that a pistol and matching casings were found inside Smith's vehicle.

Federal marshals operate under the U.S. Department of Justice to protect federal courthouses and track down fugitives. In Minnesota, the marshals lead the North Star Fugitive Task Force, which draws from local law enforcement agencies to arrest fugitives.

The undercover officers who fired on Smith have not been publicly identified, and likely will not be.

©2021 StarTribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.