Fernando Smith never thought that a trip to the movies with his son would result in his own arrest, and lead to police raiding his business. But that’s exactly what happened. Back on May 17th, at the Country Club Mall, in Cumberland, Maryland, Smith was confronted by a mall security guard who thought he was up to no good.
As it turned out, Smith was just giving his vehicle a minute to warm up – a quirk of his vehicle, as he explained to the security guard. That didn’t seem to matter much to the rent-a-cop, who promptly called the police.
When they arrived, the police demanded identification from Smith, who asserted his rights. He had been at the movie theater at the mall, and was a paying customer. That didn’t stop the police from charging him with Trespassing and “Disorderly Conduct.”
“I could have never imagined taking my 7 year old son out for dinner and a movie would lead to me being disrespected and arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct right in front of him,” Smith explains.
He had forgotten his briefcase at work, one of two local car dealerships he owns. Realizing this, he had asked his secretary to bring his briefcase to him, so that he could continue spending time with his son.
“My secretary who was waiting for me to exit the movie to give me my briefcase.” But the mall cop thought that this looked like a drug deal, rather than a law abiding citizen being handed his property by his employee. Even after explaining what was going on, the rent-a-cop called the actual cops.
“Real cops arrive and immediately detained me and threatened to arrest me.”
That’s when Smith began recording the cops. Watch the video below…
On October 21st, Smith had his first day in court. He beat the Trespassing charge but was convicted of “Disorderly Conduct” in spite of nothing disorderly being observed whatsoever.
Two days later, the West Virginia State Police with neighboring county sheriffs in Keyser, West Virginia, right next to Cumberland, Maryland raided his businesses.
They seized computers, cell phones – pretty much anything you would need to run a business. Since then, without invoices and records for his vehicles, he hasn’t effectively been able to run his businesses. In spite of the warrants served at his places of business, no illegal activity was determined to have occurred.
Months later, after we first reported on his case, a number of bizarre charges were filed against him. Now, Fernando is due back in court Thursday, May 7th. He tells us the following:
Today, I met with my defense team in lieu of the indictments just handled down to me and my wife. The indictments lists 29 “victims” of what they claim to be a catch all phrase when they have noting else they can charge you with… “false pretense” “conspiracy”.
A review of these “victims” have been found to be past customers whose vehicles have been repossessed and who have been disgruntled with us. 29 people after the State Police took out an ad soliciting “Anyone having any complaints” against Pristine.
Can you imagine if they did this to all car dealerships how many complaints they would have to investigate? What makes this dealership different? Keep in mind these are all complaints that the State Police sought our after they did an illegal raid… which is presently pending a decision in the WV Supreme Court. Also, keep in mind this is also after Pristine has been without its property since Oct, 23, 2014 that included all of its computers, files, titles to vehicles, financial documents,.. every file from 2006 to present.
The trumping up of charges against Fernando did not come until after it looked like the police were going to back off him. But when he started a local Cop Block chapter, and began to organize and actively participate in police accountability, and filming the police, these new charges were handed down.
There is more to the story and the history of the police with Fernando…
Fernando grew up as a victim of police brutality. In 1989 Fernando was shot in the head while unarmed during a traffic stop in Washington DC where he grew up. This was before cell phones was the norm and this was not caught on camera but he did receive a settlement while the officers went uncharged without not even a day off.
Now here he is more than 20 years later and he is still being harassed by the police. He established his business in 2006 and up until the date of this illegal raid he did not have one single complaint filed against him.
Now, all of a sudden, the DMV has revoked his license, the state police has fabricated a case, and he is still without his property to even mount up a defense. This friday, he is legally required to turn himself in and a bond will be placed on him and his wife.
The goal of the police has been to shut down this law-abiding citizen and small business owner. This is a clear instance of police harassment taken to an insane and mafia-like level. Don’t let these corrupt cops get away with it!
Help us get the word out about Fernando Smith’s case and donate whatever you can spare to his legal defense fund!
(Article by M. David and Jackson Marciana)