Alabama cop accused of murdering man told investigators he fired when man swung pole at him

Published 1:31 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A white Alabama police officer charged with murder in the shooting of a black man initially told an investigator he fired after the man swung a pole at him, jurors heard Wednesday.

Prosecutors played jurors a recording of a statement made by Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith hours after the killing of Greg Gunn, 58.

Smith stopped Gunn, who was walking through his neighborhood in the pre-dawn hours, and attempted to frisk him moments before the shooting occurred, authorities have said.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports Smith initially told an investigator Gunn swung a painting pole at him after a short pursuit.

The investigator asked Smith if he was “in fear for your life” when Gunn swung the pole, which missed Smith.

“I was afraid I was going to get hit in the head,” Smith said. Gunn was shot five times outside a neighbor’s home.

Prosecutors contend Smith’s story changed over time, leading to a murder charge. Deputy District Attorney Ben McGough told jurors in an opening statement that Smith was “nothing more than a bully with a badge.”

Defense attorney Mickey McDermott portrayed Gunn as being on cocaine and presenting a threat to Smith.

“This young man had to make a decision in microseconds,” McDermott told jurors earlier.

The shooting happened in February 2016. The trial is being held in the south Alabama town of Ozark after a judge moved it out of Montgomery.