Police chief defends officer in deadly shooting

August 1, 2008 5:43:30 PM PDT
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen on Friday defended an officer who fired 11 shots in a fatal confrontation with a man armed with a toy gun. Allen said Officer Matthew Jones was justified when he repeatedly fired at 48-year-old Gregory Smith during a June confrontation in a motel parking lot.

"I think the officer acted appropriately," Allen told reporters.

Details of Smith's 12 wounds, suffered from 11 bullets, were first reported by the El Paso Times this week. According to an autopsy report obtained by the newspaper, Smith suffered three gunshot wounds to his left thigh, two in his right buttock and one each in his right shoulder, right forearm and left foot.

A gunshot wound to the left side of Smith's neck killed him immediately, the medical examiner concluded.

Allen said the autopsy results are "one aspect of the investigation." He said a video recorded on Jones' dashboard video camera backed up the officer's claims that Smith appeared to have a weapon.

The chief said though there were nearly a dozen shots fired, Jones feared for his life and had the right to keep shooting "until a threat is neutralized."

The case has been turned over to the El Paso County District Attorney's Office. Allen said prosecutors expect to present the case to a grand jury in August.

Jones remains on administrative duty.

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