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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

A traffic stop that turned violent was the straw that broke the camel's back for UPD officer Keith Smith, the same officer who shot a graduate student in the face on campus two years ago.

On July 23, Smith was involved in a high-speed chase down West University Avenue with a driver who was reportedly driving 79 mph in a 35-mph zone.

What should have been a routine speeding stop became unnecessarily violent when the driver of the speeding vehicle slowed down to ask Smith where to stop near 34th Street.

As recorded on the police cruiser's dashboard, Smith begins yelling at the driver and threatening to shoot him. He then pulls the driver from the car and handcuffs him.

Smith has been fired for this incident, something we believe should have happened sooner.

As many in the Gainesville area will remember, Smith was involved in the shooting of the doctoral student who suffered from mental health problems in 2010.

Kofi Adu-Brempong approached officers with a table leg when they stormed into his campus apartment after they were called about screams coming from inside.

Smith, after receiving orders from his superior fired his assault rifle. Adu-Brempong was shot in the face and the hand.

Smith was also involved with an incident in the Porter's neighborhood in southwest Gainesville where officers harassed and threw eggs at suspected drug dealers and prostitutes.

To top it off, Smith was involved in another chase with a vehicle that failed to stop behind the white line at an intersection in 2007. This was another totally unnecessary abuse of power.

According to his personnel file, Smith had the highest number of physical arrests for his shifts during 2008. One has to wonder how many of these turned physical for no reason.

Smith's record of reckless abuse of authority shows he never should have been on the squad that dealt with the doctoral student.

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Smith was a member of the Critical Incident Response Team during the student shooting, which is designed "to respond to active shooters," said UPD Chief Linda Stump in 2010.

The Crisis Intervention Team should have been called to deal with this situation instead, since they have received training on how to deal with those struggling with mental health issues.

Even though the student shooting incident could have been avoided by sending the proper team to handle the situation, Smith's record should have indicated that he was not right for a team that responds to "active shooters."

Smith appears to have a history of aggressive behavior, and if he was ever in a situation involving an "active shooter," could have made matters worse.

Why Smith, who supposedly was on a highly skilled response team, was on traffic duty the night of the high-speed chase is another question.

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