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George Smith and his wife, Mary, speak during a public meeting on Thursday to raise awareness of the lawsuit against the city on behalf of Marcus Smith, who died while in police custody in Greensboro on Sept. 8, 2018.

GREENSBORO — Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott said Friday that outcry over the September death of a man in police custody was not a factor in his decision to retire.

Marcus Deon Smith died Sept. 8 after police officers hogtied him on Church Street. Since then, community activists and advocates for Smith and Smith’s family have called on city leaders to fire Scott. Smith’s family and supporters held a community meeting Thursday night and repeated their calls for the city to take action.

Smith’s family earlier this year filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Guilford County, eight police officers and two paramedics, alleging that they deprived Smith of his constitutional right to life through their actions that day.

Scott said at a news conference Friday morning that he is retiring on Jan. 31 only because he is eligible to retire.

“I’ve expressed concerns related to that particular incident,” Scott said of the Smith case. “But the truth be known, incidents occur every day across this country and police departments are called into question. I think we’ve answered the questions that have been out there. Some of that’s out there in litigations so we can only go so far, but quite frankly we have a tremendous amount of support in our city.

“I couldn’t be more happy with the way we answered not only that question but others that have happened in our history. And no one factor drove this. It’s a matter of timing.”

Mary Smith, Smith’s mother, declined after Scott’s announcement to speak extensively about his comments, only saying, “I do not believe that they have answered all the questions.”

She said at the Thursday night meeting that her family will “never go away” until they get more answers from the city in her son’s death.

Scott said further that he has complete confidence in the police force and how they handle encounters with the public.

In the Smith case, he said, “the results were terrible, what happened, someone lost their life. But as family members, I understand that. They have my sympathy for grieving. But at the end of the day, public safety is about doing what’s best for each individual in our community and we will continue to do that.”

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Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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