In a continuation of the ongoing police scandals rocking the country, 28-year-old Latoya Smith has been pronounced dead following an incident this afternoon in Atlanta, according to multiple local media outlets. This closely follows the recent shooting deaths of Tulsa resident Terence Crutcher, Tyre King of Columbus and Charlotte resident Keith Lamont Scott which have thrown the nation into turmoil resulting in violent demonstrations.
According to eyewitness accounts, Latoya was sitting on a bench in the neighborhood of Marietta Street (recently named one of America’s 25 most dangerous neighborhoods) waiting for the bus when her infant child began crying insistently. Knowing that her baby was hungry Ms. Smith began to breastfeed her daughter, Layla. She was then approached by a police officer, later identified as Michael Eaton, who requested that she stop feeding the baby in public as it was “indecent”. Ms. Smith refused to comply with the directive and told Officer Eaton that she wasn’t doing anything illegal. Officer Eaton again insisted that she stop and threatened to arrest her for indecent exposure. Ms. Smith calmly responded to the Officer that he could not arrest her because breastfeeding in public wasn’t against the law.
“He got so mad at her”, said Tyrone Webb, who witnessed the unfortunate altercation. “He started yelling at her, saying that he was the police, and that she didn’t know s**t about what was against the law. He got all red in the face, pointing his finger right at her nose. She just sat there and kept feeding the baby calm as could be, being real polite and reasonable. Someone else tried to chime in and tell him he was wrong and he told the lady to shut up and mind her business.”
As the argument transpired the bus approached and Ms. Smith stood up and moved Layla to her other arm, momentarily exposing her whole breast to the Officer and other onlookers. Ms Smith then clipped her breastfeeding bra shut and went to get on the bus with her baby.
Sandra Parker, another witness to the incident, described what followed next: “He screamed at her to stop and told her that she was under arrest. When she ignored him and kept walking toward the bus he grabbed her by the back collar of her shirt and violently yanked her backwards. The poor baby just toppled out of her hands. She hit the ground and the poor little thing just started bleeding from her head. At that point, Latoya became extremely upset and the officer was clearly taken aback. She moved forward aggressively when he pulled out his gun and shot her twice, right there on the street. It was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen!”
Onlookers grabbed the injured baby and attempted to staunch the flow of blood from her split head. Officer Eaton is reported to have made the statement to the crowd that “it was an accident but you can’t resist arrest”. Layla was transported to Marietta Central Hospital.
Officer Eaton has been placed on paid leave pending a full investigation. The police department has issued a statement expressing their concern regarding this “unfortunate” event and states that all citizens must comply with orders to submit to arrest peacefully so that accidental injuries can be avoided.
Local community leader and Smith family friend Harold Jackson has called for the arrest of Officer Eaton on charges of murder, calling his actions a travesty of justice. The Smith family has not yet commented on the death of their daughter.