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Shannon Smith Shot In The Back By Police Officer
"He was frightened. I'm sure he didn't know what to
Police Officer Charged With Murder In
Shooting Of Motorist
On July 24, Smith, whose parents say had a "mental disability", drove away again after putting $15.05 worth of gas in his tank. An hour later, police spotted Smith's car and began to chase him. Officers from three agencies boxed Smith's car in at a bridge, then approached the car with guns drawn and commanded him to get out of the car.
Smith made no attempt to get out of the vehicle and instead tried to ram into one of the cars. Several officers opened fire, mostly at the Cadillac's tires. Smith was killed when one of the officers shot directly at him through the rear window of the car.
Jeffrey A. Gabor, 23, of the nearby Hudson Police Department was charged Thursday with second-degree murder following an investigation by Illinois State Police.
More details are available from Chicago Tribune:
Community Supports Cop, Not Shooting
Hudson police officer Jeffrey Gabor, 23, is accused of firing the fatal shots that killed Shannon Smith, 27, on July 24. Smith, who reportedly had mental retardation, had left a gas station without paying for $15 worth of gas. After a long chase, officers from three departments surrounded his Cadillac on a bridge and demanded he get out of the vehicle. When Smith tried bumping one of the patrol cars to escape, police opened fire on him and his vehicle. He died at the scene.
Investigators later determined that Gabor shot Smith in the back through the rear window, and charged him with murder.
Less than two hours after a judge reduced Gabor's bond from $500,000 to $200,000 on Tuesday, relatives paid the $20,000 required to free him. About $12,000 of that was gathered from neighbors and area merchants. In fact, as of Wednesday morning, nearly $9,000 worth of cash and services had been donated, in addition to the $25,000 his family raised overnight to retain an attorney. The family plans a fundraiser to auction off the donated services later this month.
In sharp contrast, a fund established by Smith's family had a total of $400 -- $20 of which came from his father. Terry Smith started the fund to raise money to fix up his son's home and to raise his son's 22 dogs. He also owes $10,000 for the funeral.
Terry Smith told the Chicago Tribune that he also recently repaid the gas station for the $15 his son left without paying on the day of his death. "I went in there and paid the bill," he said.
"High price to pay for someone's life."
Shooting Victim's Family Sues
Smith, 27, who reportedly had mental retardation, pulled away from a Chenoa gas station on July 24 without paying for $15.05 worth of gas for his Cadillac. Area clerks who had served Smith in the past said it was common for him to forget to pay and he normally made amends on a later visit.
Local police, some of whom were familiar with Smith, spotted him about an hour later and began chasing him. Soon, officers from three agencies boxed in Smith's car on a bridge, got out of their own cruisers and demanded he get out of his car. When Smith disregarded the instructions and instead tried to ram a patrol car out of his way, officers opened fire on his vehicle, mostly hitting the tires. But Smith died at the scene from being shot in the back.
Ten days after the shooting, police arrested part-time Hudson officer Jeffrey Gabor, 23, on second-degree murder charges. It is estimated that as many as five bullets from Gabor's gun struck Smith in the back, through the rear window.
The lawyer for Smith's mother, Diane Moreno, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Peoria on Wednesday. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against Gabor and the village of Hudson. Attorney Patrick O'Shaughnessy said the family hopes the move will allow them to learn more about Smith's death. "This will give us federal subpoena powers ... in order to keep getting information because we keep running into roadblocks," O'Shaughnessy explained.
Since Gabor's arrest, the local community has rallied around him and his family to show their support. Within a few days, individuals and area businesses contributed tens of thousands of dollars to help pay for Gabor's bond and his defense. Three weeks ago, over 100 people paid $5.00 admission each, to attend a fundraiser in which donated items and services were auctioned. While the family would not disclose the amount raised, it was noted that one anonymous donor gave $500, along with a note indicating the donor believed Gabor was acting in the line of duty when he shot Smith.
"It would be kind of nice if they raised money to pay for my son's funeral," said Smith's father Terry of the accused officer's friends and family. "If he doesn't have the money to pay for a lawyer, he can get a public defender."
Acquaintances of Smith have said he often became scared and confused while police were following him.
Shannon Smith's Killer Found Not
Smith, 27, whose parents claim had "mental disabilities", was chased by officers from three agencies after he left a gas station without paying for $15.05 worth of gasoline on July 24, 2000. The officers surrounded his Cadillac on a one-lane bridge in a construction zone, then approached with their weapons drawn.
When they ordered Smith to get out of the car, he instead rammed the patrol cars. Gabor, who was standing behind the vehicle, fired seven shots through the rear window, striking Smith in the back three times and the shoulder one time.
Smith died at the scene.
During the trial, jurors were shown a videotape of the shooting taken from a police vehicle. Gabor's defenders say the video was a key piece of evidence. It reportedly shows Gabor kicking Smith's car and striking the window with a baton before firing the fatal shots.
Smith's father said the family was angry and upset about the verdict, but was not surprised.
"I just don't believe there is justice in America anymore," Terry Smith told Bloomington's Pantagraph newspaper. "It (the verdict) didn't surprise me any. I've felt all along they wouldn't find a cop guilty of murder."
Smith's family have civil rights lawsuits pending against all three officers.
Shannon Smith's Family Settles Wrongful
If the McLean County probate court approves the proposed $675,000 settlement, Smith's parents and sister will drop the wrongful death suits against Hudson police Officer Jeffrey Gabor, Lexington police Officer Jason Edmunds, former Chenoa police Officer Dennis Carter and the communities of Hudson, Lexington and Chenoa.
Smith, who reportedly had mental retardation, sometimes forgot to pay for gas when he filled up his Cadillac. Local clerks said he usually came back later to pay.
On July 24, a clerk called police after Smith drove his car away from a gas station without paying for $15.05 worth of fuel. Smith's vehicle was spotted and police started a low-speed chase. Officers from the three towns, some of whom were familiar with Smith, surrounded him on a bridge and ordered him to get out of his car. When he tried pushing a police truck that blocked his path, the officers opened fire.
Smith died at the scene.
Investigators determined that Officer Gabor fatally shot Smith. It was estimated that as many as five bullets from Gabor's gun struck Smith in the back, through the rear window of the Cadillac. Gabor was charged with second-degree murder but was later acquitted. He has since returned to the police force.
Officer Edmunds, who shot at Smith's tires, was charged with reckless misconduct, but prosecutors dismissed that charge.
No charges were filed against Officer Carter, who moved out of state after the shooting.
Acquaintances of Smith said later that he often became scared and confused while police were following him.
In exchange for dropping the suits, the family would recieve $412,000, while $244,000 will go toward legal fees and expenses, and $19,000 will go toward Smith's funeral costs and other expenses, the Associated Press reported Sunday.