Springfield city officals, community leaders met with protesters
The video of Springfield Police officers taking down Solomon Smith, a black man with special needs, has shaken many in the community.
Thursday, Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond announced the firing of Officer Ronnie Nelson during a press conference.
Hammond also said Nelson falsified the police report when he claimed Smith threw a punch at an officer. The other officers at the scene claim that it did not happen.
Shortly after the news conference ended, Smith and his friend Robert Stewart, who lead many protests following the incident, met with Police Chief Barry Roberts and other Springfield officials to come to an understanding.
“It’s a boiling pot, and it’s got a lot of people upset. Me as an autistic father, the thought that I never wanted to happen is a reality now,” said Robert Stewart with the “Justice 4 Sunny” movement.
Stewart explained how Smith, also known as Sunny D, is still traumatized by the incident, and many locals want the other officers involved held accountable.
Stewart also says Smith’s family is seeking legal guidance.
“He’s one of our angels that we have to protect. This community is only as good as we treat people like this,” said Stewart.
Chief Roberts commended Stewart and other locals for peacefully protesting the incident.
“The way you handled it is 100% what our US Constitution stands for, and I thank you,” said Chief Roberts.
Roberts also said what happened to Smith was wrong, and the department wants to work to do better to regain the community’s trust.
“How can I expect you to trust me,” said Chief Roberts. “I can’t do that right now. I don’t expect you to trust me. We’re just gonna have to work together through action to prove that, that’s not us.”