LOS ANGELES– A man who was on the run after failing to abide by the terms of his release after serving a prison sentence in a narcotics case was found guilty this afternoon of assaulting a Deputy U.S. Marshal by trying to run him over with a minivan.
Keith Leon Smith, 47, was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of assaulting a federal officer with a deadly and dangerous weapon.
“Law enforcement officers put their lives at risk every day in the line of duty,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Those who increase this risk and intentionally put the lives of law enforcement officers in jeopardy will be prosecuted.”
According to the evidence presented during a three-day trial in United States District Court, on March 11, 2015, six Deputy U.S. Marshals went to a residence on East 220thStreet in Carson, where they believed Smith was residing. The Deputy Marshals were conducting an investigation with the goal of taking Smith into custody after a federal judge in 2013 had issued a bench warrant. Smith was wanted because he had violated the terms of his supervised release after serving more than seven years in prison for being convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine.
While conducting the surveillance, the Deputy Marshals observed Smith exit the residence, get into a minivan and leave the location. The Deputy Marshals, who were in several vehicles, followed Smith and executed a traffic stop. As the Deputy Marshals approached the minivan that Smith was driving and identified themselves as law enforcement officers, Smith reversed his vehicle toward some of the Marshals Service vehicles. Smith then suddenly accelerated his vehicle toward one of the Deputy Marshals, who was in front of the minivan. The Deputy Marshal, now in the way of the oncoming minivan, fired his weapon at the windshield and fell backward.
Smith briefly stopped the vehicle as the shots hit the windshield, and then accelerated the minivan toward the Deputy Marshal on the ground. The Deputy Marshal was able to jump out of the way of the minivan and fire several shots at the vehicle. According to court documents, the Deputy Marshal “believes that he would be dead if he had not stumbled out of the way of defendant's oncoming vehicle.”
Smith then sped away as the Deputy Marshals gave chase. But, due in part to his dangerous driving, which included swerving into oncoming traffic, Smith was able to elude capture that day. However, deputies with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department located Smith's minivan the next day and took him into custody. During a subsequent interview with Sheriff's Deputies, Smith stated that he did not “stop” for the Marshals because he did not “want to go back to prison,” according to the evidence presented at trial.
As a result of today's conviction, Smith faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who presided over the trial, is scheduled to sentence Smith on April 18.
The investigation in the assault case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Kimberly D. Jaimez of the General Crimes Section.
USAO – California, Central Updated January 14, 2016
Central District of California DOJ / 16-006 / January 14, 2016
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