Texas City Police shot and killed Carlton Smith, Jr., 20, outside of a nightclub called HT’s Lounge early Friday morning. Smith’s family is disputing whether it was necessary to shoot him, but the owner of the club says that his surveillance camera footage supports the police’s version of events.
The club was hosting an event called “Hood Night” on Christmas evening and was very crowded, according to a report by Click2Houston. Fights had broken out inside the club at closing time involving Smith and several men, and between a woman who was with Smith and another woman. Police were called to the scene.
“A Texas city police officer arrived at the parking lot and saw the individual firing his handgun in the direction of people and drew his service weapon,” Texas City Police Chief Robert Burby said. ABC 13 – Houston reported that investigators told them that an officer gave Smith a warning, and he turned to point the gun at the police.
The owner of the club, Harris T. Aldridge, has operated the club at this location for 35 years. He told reporters that his surveillance videos showed Smith firing a gun toward a crowd of people outside the club and then turning the gun toward a police officer when he was shot. Aldridge turned the only copy of the video footage over to police.
“He didn’t get the chance to point the gun at officers at all because they shot him before he got all the way around,” Aldridge told ABC 13. “He was turning with it in his hand.”
“He definitely made a move with that gun toward that cop?” Click2Houston reporter, Joel Eisenbaum asked Aldridge. “Yeah, he did,” confirmed Aldridge. “He did.”
Another witness told ABC 13 that Smith’s female companion had the gun at first and denies that the police gave him any warning. “She shot in the air to scatter the people away from him,” said the witness. “Then when they got back up they ran back up on him and he snatched the gun from her and started shooting. When he was done shooting, the cop ran up on him and shot him in the back of the head.”
“If you come up behind him and shoot him with no warning, you didn’t tell him to freeze, didn’t tell him nothing, you wanted to shoot him,” Smith’s aunt Quintina Block said. “Why was he shot in the back? That’s what a witness said.”
Aldridge, however, remains insistent that Smith’s family needs to see the video before they make any judgments about what happened. “They need to see the tape and everybody can see for themselves what happened on the tape,” he said. “Because if I hadn’t seen the tape, I wouldn’t have known what happened.”
Smith graduated from LaMarque High School in 2013 and leaves behind a four year old son.
There were reports of rocks and bottles being thrown at police officers after Smith was shot, but police have not yet confirmed that.
The investigation into the shooting is being handled by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and Galveston County District Attorney’s Office. The officer who shot Smith has not yet been identified.
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