GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s a moment that Daevionne Smith struggles to understand even days after it happened.
“The emotions are still going,” said Smith, who lives in Grand Rapids. “I really thought I was going to lose my life that night because it’s like, it was like an ambush.”
This past Thursday, around 10:30 p.m., Smith drove to his dad’s house near the intersection of Cass Avenue and Sycamore Street on the city’s Southeast side.
However, when he went inside, Smith says he found his dad asleep and decided to visit another day.
Only this time, Smith returned to Grand Rapids police surround the home.
According to the department, officers saw a car that “possibly” matched the description of a stolen one linked to other crimes, so they followed it and set up a perimeter while they waited for Smith to leave.
When Smith came out, GRPD officers moved in. Police say it’s during these moments that an officer slipped while, “running down a sloped area” and discharged his gun. The bullet hit a nearby building and did not hurt anybody, although Smith says he hurt his arm after the shot startled him.
The incident is being investigated by Grand Rapids’ Internal Affairs Unit and the department has requested Michigan State Police to review what happened. Police say preliminary information suggests the discharge was unintentional.
“I thought it was somebody trying to rob me or something, so I moved, run off to my right, and I made it to like five or seven feet and I hear the gunshot,” said Smith. “When I heard the gunshot I’m like, ‘Ahhh what did I do what did I do?’”
After the weapon was fired, police went onto learn Smith’s car while “similar” was not the one in question.
Smith says it only added to insult.
“Nobody thought to look at this car and look at the badge on there that clearly said AA or look at the plate on there that identifies who’s car this is?” asked Smith. “Was the car the target or was I the target?”
Smith’s cousin, Breonna Taylor, died in March 2020 after police in Louisville, Kentucky shot and killed the West Michigan native during a botched no-knock warrant.
In the months after, Taylor’s death made headlines and sparked changed.
Smith says he though of Taylor when he sat in the back of the police car last week.
“When do it stop? It’s coming closer and closer,” said Smith. “At first it was people I didn’t know, just seen on TV, then it was my cousin, and now it’s me.”
Smith says the incident highlights systemic issues in policing discussed in the aftermath of Taylor’s death. He hopes the incident pushes accountability among GRPD, which he believes the community needs to see.
“If I had that weapon and I dropped that weapon or I was running with the weapon in my hand and accidentally disclosed the trigger, I would’ve had 100 holes in me or 100 charges on me,” said Smith.
GRPD declined an on camera interview, citing the internal investigation.