MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A judge denied immunity from Thursday to a white Alabama police officer who said he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot an unarmed black man in 2016.
Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith goes on trial next month on murder charges for the death of a 58-year-old Greg Gunn.
Montgomery Court Greg Griffin made the decision to refuse immunity after a hearing in which Smith described an escalating confrontation and what he said was his fear for his life because Gunn was “arming themselves” with a painter’s pole, WSFA reported.
“I have to admit that I do not find the officer’s testimony is believable,” Griffin said. “I don’t feel that you have met the burden of proof. This trial will continue on August 13.”
The February 2016 shooting happened after Smith stopped Gunn if Gunn a walk through his neighborhood.
Smith testified that he “absolutely” in fear of his life when he made the decision to shoot, the station reported. He said Gunn swatted his hand away during a frisk and then ran from him. Smith said that he first tried a stun gun and baton to take control of him. Smith said he drew his weapon because he thought that Gunn was arming himself with a six-foot (1.8-meter) painter’s pole, and a veranda.
“He was trying to get away from me, and everything I’ve tried to do to stop him doesn’t work; taser is useless, baton is useless, tell him to get in on the ground floor is completely useless and now he is arming himself, and I felt completely threatened on the porch,” Smith testified, according to the Montgomery Advertiser .
Gunn was shot five times.
Smith said that he stopped Gunn, who walk, because the patrol of the district had been “ripped” with burglaries and was addressed in the pre-shift roll call meetings “to stop everyone and everything that moves in the district,” the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Smith said that he believed that he did everything correctly, the newspaper reported.
“With how I am treated in my ward, doing my work, it would be a lot easier to get back on my music, text my girlfriend, stay in my car and never get out of the car in the first place,” Smith said, according to the newspaper. “I would still work, I would still be on the street doing my work. But I chose to do my work at 3 in the morning with no one looking over my shoulder, and I got railroaded.”