Inmate describes being shot by officer

Michael L. Smith at Portsmouth City Jail (WAVY/Joel Hilton)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – An investigation into an officer-involved shooting last week in Portsmouth shows the officer’s weapon was discharged inside a police cruiser.

The incident happened around 2:30 p.m Thursday in the area of South Street and Cumberland Avenue in Portsmouth and involved a Chesapeake police officer.

Det. Misty Holley with the Portsmouth Police Department said the investigation revealed the suspect, Michael L. Smith , 27, was wanted on several charges out of Elkton, Md. While incarcerated in the Portsmouth City Jail Monday, Smith described to what happened when the officer was trying to serve him fugitive warrants.

VIDEO: Full jailhouse interview with Michael Smith

“When I turned like this, I heard a loud pop. I heard a pop, a loud bang, and I was hit, and they just laid me down on the ground,” Smith said.

Police say there is no evidence Smith had a gun, and he said that’s true. He also confirmed the officer was inside his vehicle when he shot Smith.

“Yes, [the bullet] went through the windshield … it struck me … and the bullet is still in me … I did not have a gun … I did have a pocket knife.”

Portsmouth police detectives who are investigating the case will not say whether the officer shot through the windshield on purpose or by accident, but Smith said the officer’s partner questioned his actions: “The partner said, ‘why did you fire?’ The officer who shot me then went back and sat in the car.”

The officer who did the shooting refused to give a statement to detectives, on advice of counsel.

Smith also showed where he was shot; the bullet grazed his arm and entered his chest area.

Lt. Joe Zurolo with the Elkton Police Department told Smith was wanted on charges of first-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary, malicious destruction of property, stolen firearm, third-degree burglary and theft $1,000 to $10,000.

Police in Elkton received information Smith may have traveled to Chesapeake to a relative’s home and contacted Chesapeake police for help. Officers and deputies in Chesapeake began an investigation and received a tip Smith was possibly in Portsmouth. asked Smith why police would take out a fugitive warrant for arrest, if he had nothing to do with the crimes he’s accused of. His answer: “Because out where they’re at, that is a little town, they get money off every little thing … I did not do this.”

Smith said he arrived at his mother’s house on May 24 — the day before he’s accused of burglary in Maryland. He claims he was not in Maryland on May 25, when the crimes occurred.

“I know nothing about any of this … I know people will say ‘that’s what they all say’ … they’re suppose to say that … I have done nothing wrong,” Smith said.

Crews conducted surveillance and confirmed Smith was in Portsmouth. Holley said they requested the help of Portsmouth police and saw Smith walking in the area.

“As the officers’ vehicle approached Smith in an attempt to apprehend him, a firearm was discharged from inside the unmarked police vehicle,” Holley said in a release. “The investigation has revealed that a Chesapeake police officer discharged his firearm.”

Det. Holley said the department’s “initial indication was that they were both on the street when the shot was fired, but upon further investigation that turned out not to be the case.” Holley confirmed Smith was standing outside the car when he was hit.

The officer was placed on administrative assignment, which is standard operating procedure.

Friday, Smith was released from the hospital and taken into custody. He is currently being held at the Portsmouth City Jail awaiting extradition. He will be in court Tuesday morning.

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