Conviction affirmed against man shot by Willmar police in 2017
Matthew David Smith, 48, of Willmar, following a three-day trial was found guilty of a felony charge of threats of violence. The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and pointed to his conduct in which he pointed a loaded handgun at two officers responding to a call of a suicidal man with a gun
WILLMAR — The Minnesota Court of Appeals in a ruling released Monday upheld the felony conviction against a man who had pointed a handgun at two Willmar Police Department officers.
A Kandiyohi County jury had found Matthew David Smith, 48, of Willmar, guilty of making threats of violence, but acquitted him on two second-degree assault charges following a three-day trial in December 2018.
Smith was shot in his upper leg in July 2017 after he did not lower his gun in response to instructions from the officers who had responded to a call to the backyard of his home in Willmar.
Smith argued in his appeal that because he did not communicate a threat of future violence, there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. In its decision, the Court of Appeals found that the defendant “ ... by his conduct, threatened to commit assault-harm against the police officers … ”
The two officers had responded separately to Smith’s backyard in response to a call from the man's wife around 5:30 p.m. on July 23, 2017. She stated that he had been drinking, had a handgun, and wanted her to watch him blow his head off, according to the criminal complaint.
Smith pointed the handgun at each officer and did not lower it in response to instructions to drop it. One of the officers testified that he believed the defendant was attempting to escalate his force against them if they did not shoot him. The other also testified that he feared for his own life when the defendant pointed the gun at him.
The gun held by Smith was loaded and had a round in its chamber. His blood-alcohol level at the time was 0.207 percent, or more than twice the legal limit for driving, according to the court records.
Smith was sentenced Jan. 31, 2019, to serve 90 days in jail and five years of probation. He was granted a stay of imposition, which means the charge may be recorded as a misdemeanor if he follows all of the requirements of the sentencing order and county probation.