Father: Release of police shooting would hurt student's family

The Associated PressDecember 19, 2009 

— The father of a UNC-Chapel Hill student killed by in a traffic

stop testified Friday that the release of videos that show his son's last

moments would have a deep, damaging impact on friends and family.

Archdale police officer Jeremy Flinchum killed Courtland Smith, 21, of

Houston on Aug. 23. The case was investigated by the SBI.

Pharr Smith testified that he didn't want memories of his son tarnished by

images of the drunken incident that unfolded at Exit 108 off Interstate

85. He said the altercation contradicts the real Courtland Smith, whom his

family knew and loved.

“It would be very painful for me to have that be the last picture in my

mind,” Pharr Smith testified.

Randolph County Superior Court Judge Brad Long is expected to decide this

week whether to release videos from dashboard cameras in two police

cruisers. Long told a crowded courtroom he needed more time to review

arguments made by attorneys both for Smith's family and for numerous media

outlets that have requested that the videos be made public. By law, the

videos can be released under the court's discretion.

Two officers had responded to a 911 call of a man driving drunk on the

interstate at high speeds, armed with a handgun and reporting he was

suicidal. Smith's 911 call and police radio communications were made

public, but the videos were not.

In September, multiple media outlets sued to get the videos released in

the public's interest. Smith's family has sought to keep the tapes sealed.

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