This investigation was published in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for The Marshall Project’s newsletter or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — On a warm October day in 2018, George and Mary Smith drove to police headquarters, where they had a 2 p.m. appointment to watch video of the death of their son Marcus.
Nearly everything they knew about the September 2018 incident in which he died came from a Greensboro Police Department press release, which said he had been suicidal and combative before collapsing as police tried to help him. A lawyer had secured their right to watch the body camera footage.
When they got to headquarters, Mary changed her mind.
"A mother doesn't want to see her child fall off a bicycle, much less getting beat to death," she said. "And that's when I decided I did not want to watch."