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home : latest news : local November 25, 2015

4/21/2010 9:55:00 PM
Police-involved shooting: Neighbors say suspect was stressed, drinking
Donald Frank Smith
Donald Frank Smith
Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

Neighbors said Donald Frank Smith, 54, of Prescott Valley, who died in a fatal confrontation with Prescott Valley police officers Saturday, was stressed out from not working in a while and had been drinking before getting into a fight with his wife.

Police officers said they shot Smith to death when he came at them with a knife.

The Department of Public Safety released Smith's name Wednesday as they continued their investigation into the shooting that took place after three veteran officers answered a domestic violence call.

"Smitty was emotionally distraught after having a fight with his wife," said a neighbor who did not want her name published.

Another neighbor said the couple are good people.

"Like his wife said, he'd never done anything like this before," said Mary Kennedy, a neighbor.

Neighbors said Smith's wife had hoped police would take him away to let him sober up a bit.

Neighbors said when Smith confronted police with a steak knife, they'd hoped officers could defuse the situation. They mentioned another recent domestic violence incident that ended two hours later with officers arresting the suspect.

"The police have a tough job, but I think this could have been handled in a different way," Kennedy said. "They could have let him sober up. It was over very fast."

"What Smitty did and what police did was wrong, and it needs to change how these things get handled," said another neighbor who didn't want her name published.

Kennedy said Smith's wife has many friends who are giving her the support she needs right now.

Smith, who lived in the 5200 block of Stetson Drive, died from his wounds at Flagstaff Medical Center, said Sgt. Art Askew of the Prescott Valley Police Department.

Smith's wife, who lived with him at that address, was the victim of the domestic violence assault, Askew said.

Askew said he could not comment on how Smith threatened the officers with a knife or whether all three officers shot him because of the ongoing Department of Public Safety investigation.

Meanwhile, the three veteran officers involved - Sgt. Jake Jackson, with 11 years in law enforcement; Officer Keven O'Hagan, with five years in law enforcement; and Officer Tyran Payne, with nine years in law enforcement - remain on administrative leave, which is department policy, Askew said.

"The officers should return to work on Saturday," Askew said.

At 3:54 p.m. Saturday, officers answered a physical domestic violence call at the Smith home on Stetson Drive.

After officers confirmed that an assault occurred, they tried reach the suspect inside the home by phone, public address system and by knocking on windows, but the man did not respond, Askew said.

At 4:15 p.m., Smith confronted the three officers with a knife and the officers, who were in fear for their lives, shot him, Askew said.

Officers immediately gave Smith first aid and called firefighters and paramedics who treated him. Native Air flew the man to Flagstaff Medical Center, where he later died from his wounds.

None of the three officers were injured.

Smith had no previous contact with Prescott Valley police, Askew said.

Related Stories:
• Jury clears Prescott Valley in wrongful-death case
• Wrongful death suit brought against Prescott Valley police
• Officer-involved shooting leaves one man dead

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: This doesn't sound quite right.

Not every person who wears a badge is able to decide when to shoot vs when to avoid shooting a suspect as well as others. Just like not every doctor who has a license is equally able to make life or death decision. IMO 3 armed officers faced with one old drunk man with a steak knive could possibly avoid killing him and possible not get hurt. I think an investigation is warranted. Did they all open fire, or just one? Did they all agree that the suspect should die, or not? I'm not saying anyone did wrong, I'm saying that it's possible that whoever shot the man maybe should not pack a gun as a cop from now on. Maybe.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Tony Desilva

Funny how when anyone dares to criticize cops, someone else always pops up with, "you weren't there, you don't know what happened." Then in the next breath they're saying how this guy beat up his wife. So, what I want to know, is how many of you actually witnessed the alleged beating? What happened in the house before the police arrived SHOULD have been the business of a court, not the public, to decide. Whether the people we trust and pay to protect us have sufficient training or the right mentality to do the job is OUR business. It seems pretty obvious to me, as a member of that public, that something is grievously wrong when 3 supposedly trained and experienced cops can't disarm one knife-wielding civilian.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Were you there?

I think it is simple. If you were there, on scene, in the middle of the event, as it played out, you have an informed opinion, and I appreciate you sharing it. For the rest of you critics (99%+), since let's be honest, you really have no idea what actually happened, why don't you give us all a break? Is there anything worse than the self absorbed pontificating about things without being troubled by facts? Condolences to all involved.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: D W

Well, let's see now...the moral of this story is: if one wishes to live for another day, do NOT, repeat, do NOT, get drunk and assault police officers with a knife. By the way, being former Law Enforcement myself, do any of YOU, who are coherent and have "a lick of sense", want to be the first person to face off with someone showing ANY degree of hostility, AND is threatening YOU with a knife?? I didn't think so. You'd call a cop, and continue making sure YOU and you're family were somewhere safety. God bless those who face those folks and make those split-second life or death decisions every day...on OUR behalf!

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Rita Stricker

OJ -- if a civilian kills another civilian, self-defense must be proven or the killer goes to prison. No such requirements are in place for police shootings of civilians, however. And no, I've never been a cop. But the people who sign my paychecks have never done my job, either that doesn't keep them from demanding certain qualities of work and standards of behavior. Police officers are not gods they are public employees who roam our neighborhoods armed to the teeth with a license to kill pinned on their shirts. The public has not just the right, but the obligation, to demand accountability for their behavior.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Nancy Shelton

Having spent the last year in Los Angeles, I can tell you this type of thing happens here at least twice a month. People who are unarmed (Oh, we thought he had a gun!) or carrying less weaponry than the police (i.e. - tire iron, knife) are shot dead by multiple officers, with multiple weapons, causing multiple gunshot wounds. Sure, there are some cases where killing the perpetrator is justified, but I am seeing more and more cases that are questionable. When police are prosecuted they are left off the hook with the "stressful, heat of the moment" argument. You can't tell me that the police couldn't have shot in the direction of this guy's feet, scared the living daylights out of him, and arrested him without killing him.

For all the gun rights advocates out there, this is the reason Americans have the "right to bear arms," to make sure their government cannot do this kind of stuff to them (like the British did to the Colonists, remember?). Yet, I'll bet those are the same people (in general) who are supporting the police actions in this case.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Kim Storm

Oh, so it was one DRUNK man with one knife threatening THREE cops? How big was this knife, anyway, that this guy was going to take down 3 men at one swipe?

And, no, I've never been a cop, but I have seen an untrained, unarmed civilian disarm a knife-weilding would-be mugger. If expecting better from 3 trained police officers is "hurtful," so be it. Police bullets hurt, too.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Informed Voter

It's a shame when anyone dies from un-natural causes. What is worse is when they die from a choice they make.
To lay the blame on those who are defending themselves or other innocents is absurd. This man may very well have caused harm to another innocent had he not been stopped.
This Nation seems to have an issue realizing that there are consequences for every choice that we as indivduals make as well as choices made as a citizenry.
Remember the words of Socrates "Tolerance and Apathy are the final virtues of a dying society"

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Deeply Saddened

To criticize the people involved in this incident is a dis-service to all who were permanently effected by it. All the facts have not been released. Those of you that pre-judge, ridicule and spew your uninformed anti-police and anti-government rhetoric are despicable. There are many victims in this incident. The list includes the man who was shot, his wife, the police officers and medical personnel. These people will never forget what happened on this day. Whether they were a victim of their own poor choices or a victim of an action they were forced to take, they are all victims. Let them begin to heal and keep your venomous comments to yourself.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: The Facts

Police + bad guy + knife < 21 feet = shoot.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Bob Curran

Just tell me why a taser wasn't used against a knife? I think that's the reason for most of the anger here.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Mother of a Police Officer Partridge

I think everyone misses the point here....this man probably was a good man, but his situation changed him to act in a way he probably would never have ever done, which in turn forced the police to act in a way that they probably would never have done. You have to feel some sympathy for his family and for the officers. Everyone loves to blame the police but then the police are the first to be at a dangerous scene and they all risk their lives to protect all those who hate them. I wish all of you who dislike what the police did, step into their shoes for one week, and have all your family members keep in the back of their minds that you might not come home tonight because some idiot might come at you with a knife or a gun...I bet none of you would last a week! Stop complaining about the ones who keep you safe and start appreciating them.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Dear Current police officer

According to the Fallen Officers Memorial page, there has been one law officer slain in the Prescott Area over the past ninety years. That happened 36 years ago. He died of gunshot wounds. I doubt you were even born then. Just how dangerous are the people you serve and protect? It seems to me as I read the online comments relating to this tragic incident that the police are very sensitive to criticism. Everybody knows that nothing is going to happen to these policemen. They'll probably get a medal. Meanwhile this man is dead, and the policemen on this comment page aren't satisfied. They want to assassinate his good character as well. It seems to me that everybody wants to be appreciated, but where is the appreciation for the community?

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Debbie G

RIP my friend. To C- he was there for me and I wish with all my heart I had been there for him. He was a good and dear friend.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Rodney King

There is NO WAY I'd ever move to Prescott Valley!!

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Sad but true

The man had just violently assaulted the love of his life, then he aggressively confronts some total strangers (the cops) with a knife. The chance of him doing harm to the total strangers would seem very high considering the previous assault of a loved one. These "domestic violence" situations are very dangerous for cops. Statistics prove this without a doubt. The cops have one or two seconds to react when someone is 10 to 20 feet away from them and approaching them with a weapon. What on earth are some of you people talking about? While this is a very emotional, terrible situation, some of you are going overboard trying to evaluate this matter which you probably know a lot less about than you think. I'm quite sure that three cops could have subdued this man using all the tools available to them except their guns, but the chances are if they'd gone that route, at least one of them could have been killed or maimed in the process. Have any of you ever cut yourself with a knife while preparing food? Just imagine an angry man coming at you with such a weapon and how quickly and easily he could end your story with just ONE or two well placed strikes. A knife is clearly classified as a deadly weapon according to the statutes. If you threaten a cop with one, you must expect deadly force in response.

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Article comment by: Current Firefighter

Gene Wilkes, as a current fireman I can only say that I am truly embarrassed by your comment. Does being a "retired" fireman give you the authority to speak for me or my colleagues? I respect the job that police officers do and I know they respect mine. We may kid around and joke with each other but when the chips are down, we truly respect each other and will fight side by side to preserve life and property. Whether they are from an agency the size of LAPD or Jerome PD, it makes them no less at risk of violent criminals. If you truly were a fireman you would know it is the officers and firefighters who work for the smaller agencies with less resources that have the greatest risk for injury. I highly doubt you were a fireman at all. Most likely just another scanner jockey or wanna-be just like RK.

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: to Ex Fire Firefighter from CA From a current police officer

Wow, what planet are you from really.... You must have lived in a very small hole in the ground in California. Just about every firefighter I know works closely with the police and have a good understanding on what each other does. You must not have been one of them that they liked. Must explain why your an ex not a current firefighter. A Police Officer has the right to take someones life without due process of law as long as it is justified. I would like to see what you would do if you were confronted with a man with a knife wanting to harm you. Would you spray him with a hose? You were not there and YOU do not have all the facts. You allege you were a fireman and your job was to serve....police serve too and sometimes they have to serve justice to someone trying to kill them even those with knives. Do you not keep up with current events. Four Lakewood Police Officers Slain while doing paperwork prior to their you think about the dangers they face every day when they go to work to protect and serve even for people like you.

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: Thank You Police Officers

I hope the police officers involved (and their families) do not read these posts. Many of you can be son hurtful! These officers are sons, husbands, fathers, and loved men that have the right to protect themselves and go home to their families. I am truly sickened by the judgements made - especially with lack of knowledge of details.

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: gene wilkes

retired firefighter from california- most professional law enforcement people i know would of: A) have a ambulance and medical 1st responders on scene (for the wife victom) B) why wasn't the option of a taser use3d instead of pistols/shootguns? C) combined law enforcement experience- 26 years ? really ? where was there experience? Mayberry rfd? how long was he married? was he a veteran? does he get a trial? so law enforcement can now be judge, executioner, and at who's expense D)now you know why they don't let ex-cops be firemen, public service is to serve, not condem- this is an atrocity of bad procedures, and blatant disreguard of safety to all, if the man had a gun, ok, maybe shoot him, maybe he had some disorder or delirium, or maybe he was a military veteran- whens the funneral, i'd like to go......see who's really going to make a stand for a man, my neighbor-hope the cops don't shoot me for writing this

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: Take Responsibility

I find it funny how today's society cannot nor will not take responsibility for their own actions. People always want to put the blame on someone else. They blame the police when a crime occurrs. They blame the police when they get a ticket. If they don't arrest somebody they're fools or on the take. If they do arrest somebody they're gestapo. Fact is, there is one and only one person who caused Mr. Smith's death and that is Mr. Smith himself and only he will know why.

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: Jane Doe

Hey "Nomenclature Police"!!! Did you forget about the fact that a woman was almost KILLED! Ran for her SAFETY! These men protected her! God Bless all the Victims and those who protect them. You are supported.

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: American Patriot

SHOOT FIRST ASK QUESTIONS LATER....A knife, come on cops!!! Welcome To the New World Order!

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: O J

@ Nomenclature Police - Yes, the dead guy is the suspect. He is suspected of beating up his wife and he is suspected of taking a knife to a gun fight. If he would have pulled a knife on you and you shot him, he would still be a suspect. Nothing changes because it was a police officer who shot this guy while defending themself.

Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Article comment by: Proud of Our Law Enforcement

To those Police Officers who protect our community...You are Heroes!!! Thank you for doing your job everyday to get junkies off the streets. You are appreciated by many people who don't always voice their opinions. Thank you!!!

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