Medal Of Valor: Beloved Officer Slain By Gunman Turned Wrong-Way Driver

Sergeant Verdell Smith

On Saturday, June 4, 2016, Memphis Police Department lost one of their own. Officer Verdell Smith was hit by a car. Its driver had been a part of a triple shooting not 30 minutes earlier.

Chasing A Suspect

Thirty minutes before Smith was struck, the vehicle’s driver was seen talking to himself outside a North Main Street restaurant. Then, just before 10:00 pm, he fired his handgun at two customers.

Bystanders chased him to a sporting goods store. Once there, the man shot an employee and drove off in a car. As he drove away, the responding officers drove up to the store’s parking lot.

When the officers began their pursuit, the suspect was driving the wrong way down B.B. King Boulevard. The street was closed for a festival.

Getting People To Safety

Officer Smith and a few others were trying to get people out of the streets. Instead, the suspect drove through one of the barriers hitting Smith.

Smith was taken to a nearby hospital for his injuries but died as a result. The suspect attempted to run, but officers took him into custody. The suspect was later charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of murder.

Before joining the Memphis Police Department, Smith served with the U.S. Navy. He was with the police department for 18 years. He was given a posthumous promotion to Sergeant.

Officer Smith was posthumously given the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor for his bravery and actions that day. He tried to save the lives of the pedestrians enjoying the festival and lost his in the process.

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