Winston Smith's passenger offers 1st statement on shooting, claims Smith raised cellphone to record incident | KSTP.com

Winston Smith's passenger offers 1st statement on shooting, claims Smith raised cellphone to record incident

Attorney Christopher Nguyen. Photo: KSTP. Attorney Christopher Nguyen.

Tommy Wiita
Updated: July 01, 2021 05:10 PM
Created: July 01, 2021 05:03 PM

For the first time, the passenger who was with Winston Smith before he was fatally shot by deputies on top of a parking ramp in the Uptown area of Minneapolis is speaking out on her experience through a statement provided by her attorneys.

A press conference was held by her attorneys — Christopher Nguyen and Racey Rodney — Friday afternoon to announce a lawsuit being filed against all agencies involved in the incident, noting that the underlying cause of action is a violation of her civil rights. 

According to her account, Smith and the woman — identified as Norhan Askar — met for a lunch date on June 3. She noted in her statement they both met through mutual friends and had known each other for over six months at the time. She also mentioned they had been dating for "several weeks" as well. 

That day, she and Smith drove to Uptown and parked on top of the parking ramp. They then walked downstairs, had lunch and "enjoyed each other's company." According to the woman, when they walked back to the vehicle and entered it, they were soon surrounded by unmarked cars and "people with guns."

She claims law enforcement did not announce themselves during the incident, adding they were not wearing anything to identify themselves, either. Askar alleges that Smith raised his phone up to take a Facebook Live video, which prompted the deputies to open fire. She said they shouted commands to put hands up, and claims they both did so. The passenger also stated she never saw a gun inside the vehicle.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's investigation last month stated they found a loaded pistol with seven rounds inside the vehicle after the fact. The BCA also claimed that Smith raised and fired a gun at officers before they returned fire initially. However, whether he fired at police has been a point of contention in the investigation.

In addition, Askar said after she was put in handcuffs and placed in the back seat of a squad car, an officer reportedly asked her how her date was.

Askar stated she was unaware of any content Smith had produced for music videos or on social media until after June 3.

Both attorneys announced Thursday afternoon that their client will be filing a lawsuit against all agencies involved during the fatal incident. They also stated that the BCA didn't take gunshot residue samples from Smith, as the body was washed by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

"Such evidence would exonerate Mr. Smith from any wrong-doing at the time of the attempted arrest and would also be an indictment of the tactics, methods, training, and supervision — or lack thereof, of the agents tasked with serving the public," Nguyen said.

To see the full statement submitted by Askar, click here or see the embedded document below.


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