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Black 17-Year-Old Dies After Leland Officer Chased, Ran Him Over in Police Cruiser, Family Alleges

Closeup of Kadarius Smith, smiling
Kadarius Smith, pictured, died in a hospital on March 21, 2024, after a Leland, Miss., police officer ran him over while the teen was walking , attorney Ben Crump alleges in a March 27, 2024, press release. Photo courtesy Ben Crump Law

Kadarius Smith, a Black 17-year-old, died in the hospital on March 21 after a Leland, Miss., police officer began chasing him in an LPD police cruiser ran him over, civil rights attorney Ben Crump alleged in a press announcement Wednesday.

“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,” the lawyer said.

The press release does not mention an officer by name. It says Smith’s family retained Crump, a nationally known civil rights attorney, after the teen’s death.

The Mississippi Free Press called the Leland Police Department for comment, but LPD declined the request for an interview.

“Smith’s death occurred in the early morning hours of March 21, when he was walking home with friends and the police cruiser began chasing him, according to a witness,” Crump’s press release alleges, without naming the witness.

Tire marks seen in grass
Attorney Ben Crump shared photos of a tire track in the mud in a patch of grass, alleging that a Leland police officer’s vehicle made the marks when running over Kadarius Smith on March 21, 2024. Photo courtesy Ben Crump Law

The attorney’s announcement cites Smith’s mother, who alleged that her son “was run over from behind leaving police cruiser tire marks on his back.” Crump said the police department still employs the officer and that officials have not allowed the family to see the unedited video footage from that night.

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

Crump has worked on numerous high-profile cases, including ones related to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and George Floyd. He is also currently representing several families in Hinds County, Miss., after the county buried their loved ones without informing the families of their deaths.

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