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There are lingering questions about the death of an unarmed Black teen who was killed last month when a Mississippi police officer’s department-issued cruiser drove over him while he was reportedly being chased for reasons that have still not been made clear.

Kadarius Smith died March 21 after an unidentified officer with the Leland Police Department struck the 17-year-old as he and his friends were running away from a nearby home, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said, citing a witness.

Now, Crump — who is representing Smith’s family — is ramping up the pressure for Leland police to be transparent in the case by formally reiterating calls to have any police video footage recorded during the incident released to the public.

Kadarius Smith

Kadarius Smith. | Source: Ben Crump Law

He was expected to be joined by Smith’s family during a press conference on Tuesday to amplify those demands for possible dashcam or bodycam footage to help answer questions about the death.

The press conference is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to be held at the New Zion Baptist Church in Leland.

Crump previously said that Smith’s mother claimed her son was run over from behind as evidenced by tire tracks that were visible on his back.

“I never [will] have the chance, an opportunity, to see my son grow up and become the young man I always knew he was going to be,” Smith’s mother, Kaychia Calvert, told NBC News.

Calvert added: “He’s supposed to graduate next year. I’m not going to get the chance to see that. He was going to move to Georgia to start his life. I’ll never see that. … If he would have had kids, I will never get the chance to see that. I will never see anything — nothing.”

In the days after Smith’s death, Crump also called for the officer to be fired.

As of Tuesday morning, the officer involved remained unidentified.

Crump has accused the Leland Police Department of engaging in a coverup of Smith’s death.

“The circumstances surrounding Kadarius’ death are truly heartbreaking for his mother and loved ones. This tragedy should have never happened and the officers involved must be held accountable. It is unconscionable that an officer would fatally run over a teenager who was running away from them,” Crump said at the time in a statement sent to NewsOne.

Crump continued: “We demand that the officer who was driving the cruiser be immediately terminated, and that the unedited video footage is released to the family. Kadarius’ family deserves accountability and answers as to how and why he was killed by an officer in such an inhumane way.”

The police were reportedly chasing Smith and his friends after being called to a home where they were. However, additional details and context to the situation were not immediately clear.

Smith was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

A dispatcher who answered the phone at Leland Police Department was familiar with the incident and told NewsOne that the agency was not handling the case. When asked to explain, the dispatcher referred NewsOne to Leland city attorney Josh Bogen, whose telephone number did not allow a message to be left.

A request for comment from the Washington County District Attorney’s Office was not immediately returned.

Census data shows that 66% of Leland’s population is Black.

Leland Police Department Chief Billy Barber, a Black man, has been employed in that capacity for less than a year, according to a news article announcing his hire last August.

Smith’s death is the latest instance where Mississippi police have been accused of wrongdoing involving a victim who is Black in recent years.

This is America.


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