High court rejects former Alabama officer’s manslaughter appeal

Published 3:04 pm Friday, December 9, 2022

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday rejected the appeal of a former Montgomery police officer convicted of manslaughter, but two justices expressed doubt about the verdict and the adequacy of his defense.

Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in a special writing that Aaron Cody Smith failed to preserve any viable legal theories for the court to review so his appeal had to be denied. But Mitchell also wrote that it was “difficult to understand how a reasonable, properly instructed jury could have convicted Smith.” Justice Mike Bolin concurred in the writing.

A jury found Smith guilty of manslaughter for the 2016 shooting death of Gregory Gunn, 58. Smith shot and killed Gunn after he fled during a pat-down. The officer had stopped Gunn for a stop and frisk as Gunn was walking home around 3 a.m. Smith is white. Gunn was Black. The shooting drew protests in the city.

Defense lawyers maintained that Smith fired in self-defense because Gunn grabbed a painter’s pole from a porch to swing at him.

A judge sentenced Smith to 14 years in prison.

The state Supreme Court is entirely Republican.