SALEM — Prosecutors say Aparicio Smart was trying to commit “suicide by cop” when he lunged toward Salem police officers and members of a regional SWAT team on the morning of Aug. 7, 2012.
But Smart’s lawyer says police actually made the situation worse when they fired Tasers at the troubled man, sending him into spasms of pain that led to him jerking around “like a fish on a line” before he was pulled out a window, covered in cuts.
It will be up to a Salem District Court jury to decide whether Smart, 23, of 7 March St., intended to lunge at the officers with two kitchen knives and is, therefore, guilty of five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
Prosecutor Lynsey Legier said Smart wanted to end his life that day, first by trying to hang himself with a piece of wire.
Fortunately, she said, his brother found him in time. The brother convinced Smart to rest on a bed, while his mother called 911. Two Salem police officers responded to the call.
“Mr. Smart looked very out of it,” Legier told the jury. “He wasn’t focused on anything going on. He had a look or stare like there wasn’t anything going on.”
Defense lawyer Ray Buso said that’s when the first mistake was made. As the two officers consulted on the best way to approach the situation, Smart got up, walked past them and out of the bedroom. He went to the kitchen and grabbed two knives.
Then, he barricaded himself in a downstairs apartment where relatives lived.
Legier said Smart pulled down the shades as officers tried to convince him to drop the knives. “They were unsuccessful,” she said.
That’s when Salem police decided to call in the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, which has a SWAT team.