Atlanta, Georgia – Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith died in the line of duty on Friday, three weeks after he was shot in the face during a fight with an irate suspect at a dental office.
“It is with deep sadness to announce that Officer Michael Smith passed away approximately 4:30 A.M. this morning at Piedmont Hospital…due to complications from injuries he sustained from a gunshot wound in the line of duty,” the department said in a media release.
“Please keep the Smith family in your prayers,” the statement read.
Less than a week earlier, Henry County Police Chief Mark Amerman released a video to update the public on the 32-year-old officer’s improving condition.
“Yesterday, he took 10 steps, which is really encouraging,” Chief Amerman said in the Dec. 22 video. “Your thoughts and prayers going out to him are very much appreciated.”
The chief also explained that Officer Smith’s wife had “passed out” and struck her head while she was visiting her husband on Dec. 21, and was subsequently diagnosed as having “blood clots.”
“She had to have an emergency procedure…which was successful, but she is admitted to the hospital and she’s going to be there for several days while she’s recovering,” Chief Amerman said in the video.
Officer Smith, 32, was critically wounded on Dec. 6, after he responded to a report of a disturbance at Smile Creators Family and Cosmetic Dentistry just after 8 a.m., The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spokesperson Natalie Ammons, 53-year-old Dimaggio McNelly pulled up to the dentist’s office in a red van, then stormed inside.
McNelly did not have an appointment, and the office staff did not know him or why he came in, Ammons said.
Charmaine Stallworth told WSB that she was sitting in the waiting room with her 4-year-old son when McNelly walked in, and that she instantly felt uneasy.
“Just the way that he came in to go to the back of the office area without someone walking you back," Stallworth explained. “I knew this was not a good scene. The whole situation was just very odd.”
Office staff escorted McNelly back to the waiting area, where he sat down an wrote a note, Stallworth told WSB.
The employees then told him that doctor was in the middle of a two-hour procedure, at which point he began threatening them and tried to shove past them.
“I grabbed my stuff, my son, and I told him to run,” Stallworth told WSB.
The employees called 911, and Officer Smith was the first to arrive at the scene.
The seven-year veteran of the force tried speaking with the suspect for a bit, but McNelly ultimately became combative, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Officer Smith deployed his Taser multiple times during the encounter, but it “proved ineffective,” Ammons explained.
McNelly lunged at Officer Smith, leading to a physical altercation.
During the tussle, a single shot rang out.
“With that one shot, both the officer and the suspect were struck,” Ammons said.
McNelly died at the scene, GBI said in a press release.
The investigation into how the shooting occurred and who fired the weapon is ongoing, Ammons said.
Investigators did not recover a gun from the suspect, and said it was possible that the round was fired by Officer Smith’s duty weapon, Henry County Police Captain Joey Smith said during the press conference.
A fundraiser established to help Officer Smith’s family had raised over $21,000 as of Friday morning.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Michael Smith, your life mattered.