A judge on Thursday sentenced an Alabama teenager to 65 years in prison for a series of crimes, including murder, even though a police officer was the one who actually killed the victim.
Lakeith Smith, now 18, was convicted under the state’s accomplice liability law in March. Based on that law, a person can be convicted of felony murder if they were committing a crime with the deceased that led to the other person’s death, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Most U.S. states have similar laws.
In Smith’s case, he was involved in burglaries alongside A’Donte Washington, 16, when a police officer shot and killed Washington in 2015.
In February 2015, both Smith and Washington were part of a group of five who broke into two houses in Millbrook, Alabama, the Advertiser reports. When police responded to the scene, the two sides exchanged gunfire. Body camera footage played in court showed Washington running towards an officer pointing a gun at him. The officer then shot and killed Washington.
Believe it or not, I’m not a fan of accomplice liability laws. When a homeowner caps a burglar’s trash or a cop guns down a fleeing suspect, no crime has been committed. Only justice. It makes no sense to charge an accomplice for a good deed.
But then, my opinion is the police would have been justified in gunning down all five of the fleeing burglars once one of them chose to play Cops & Robbers because proactive policing is now forbidden. You can’t operate on both “reactive policing” and “proportionate force”; first they pick the terms of engagement, then you aren’t allowed to play harder than them? That’s just asking to be outplayed by crooks at every turn. I think this kind of law is merely an expression of frustration that our criminal justice system cares more about the criminal than the justice.
It is good that Lack-Wit Smith is doing 65 years–he laughed when his sentence was handed down and refused a plea bargain of 25 years, great way to show repentance ya moron–but life would have been better for the taxpayers of Alabama if he’d been gunned down on the spot because his partner in crime wanted to be a cop-killer. Or if Smith had been run out of town before this incident happened. Using accomplice liability laws to pack on the years, eh, nobody is getting what they truly want.
If anybody can find the bodycam footage, please give me a link. It was used in the trial but I failed to find it on the Internet. Gang of 5 black burglars shooting it out with police? Gotta be a good show.