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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Editor's note: The first ~21 seconds of the camera feeds from the car do not have audio. The rest of the video does.

UPD Officer Keith Smith, who came under scrutiny last year in the shooting of a student, was fired Thursday due to his conduct on the job.

The conduct evaluation was prompted by Smith's handling of a traffic stop on July 23, when he threatened to shoot a 20-year-old man whom he pulled over on a charge of reckless driving.

Smith pursued the man because he was driving 79 mph on West University Avenue in a 35-mph zone, according to a police report Smith filed.

The driver was reportedly throwing various items, including bottles, out of the top of his Mercedes convertible.

While pursuing the car, Smith drove "at an unsafe speed and in an unsafe manner," according to an Aug. 26 letter issued by Chief Linda Stump.

Dashboard video of the traffic stop showed Smith pursuing the Mercedes, which slowed to a near stop. Smith pulled up behind the car, which rolled slowly forward.

Smith ran toward the car and told the man to stop. Smith yelled at him, threatening to shoot him. He used several expletives during the incident.

The driver turned off the car and told Smith he had done so. Smith then pulled him from the Mercedes and made him lean over the back of the car, handcuffing him.

The driver and passenger in the car were not UF students, said Janine Sikes, UF spokeswoman.

Smith was placed on administrative leave with pay, pending review of his conduct during the stop, according to an Aug. 25 letter from Stump.

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He received a notice of intent to "discontinue/non-renew" his appointment at UPD on Aug. 26 - a decision that would mean his termination.

Stump wrote that the termination came because she had "lost confidence" in Smith's judgment and ability to perform his duties as a UPD officer. She cited the July 23 traffic stop as an example of such conduct.

She made the final decision to fire Smith on Sept. 1. Smith can no longer work for UF in any capacity.

Smith will be given a one-time severance pay equal to three months' salary in accordance with UF regulations.

During Smith's time at UPD, he was at the center of a controversy over the March 2010 shooting of UF graduate student Kofi Adu-Brempong, who was dealing with mental health problems.

Adu-Brempong threatened UPD officers with a metal rod at his apartment in Corry Village, a UF graduate housing complex. Smith shot him in the face during the encounter.

Adu-Brempong, who was disabled due to a childhood bout with polio, was injured but survived.

An investigation ensued, after which Smith was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Smith was involved in another controversy in 2008 when Gainesville police officers threw eggs at suspected prostitutes and drug dealers in the Porter's neighborhood. Smith was reprimanded for that incident.

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