Killer cop’s attorney says Alabama prisons unsafe due to ‘unconstitutional conditions’

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, February 11, 2020

An attorney for a white former police officer convicted of killing an unarmed black man has filed a motion asking that his client not serve his sentence in an Alabama prison because of “unconstitutional conditions” behind bars.

The motion was filed by Dwight Richardson III, the attorney for former Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith, news outlets reported. Smith was sentenced last month to 14 years in prison for the 2016 shooting death of Gregory Gunn.

The motion said Smith’s status as a former officer would subject him to heighten safety concerns in Alabama prisons, which Richardson states have been found to violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Department of Justice condemned the state’s prisons in a scathing report released last April.

Richardson also requested in the motion that the judge amend Smith’s time behind bars to a three-year split sentence at the Dale County Jail. Smith has been held there since being convicted of manslaughter, WSFA-TV reported. The split sentence would mean Smith serves three years in the jail and the rest of the time on probation.

Richardson has filed a notice of appeal and a motion for an appeal bond, which would make him eligible for a bond while his appeal was being considered. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey opposed an appeal bond during the sentencing hearing and his office filed a written objection.

Prosecutor Ben McGough wrote in the objection that an appeal bond, “would demonstrate that there is one set of rules for some convicts and another set for convicted police officers,” the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Attorneys who represented Smith from when he was charged until he was convicted filed motions to withdraw from his case after he was sentenced, WSFA reported.