Family Mourns Man Killed by Police

Published: May. 31, 2007 at 8:41 PM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2007 at 11:22 PM EDT
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Brenda Osborne
Brenda Osborne
Anthony Smashum
Anthony Smashum

The family and friends of a Savannah man, shot and killed by a Savannah Chatham Police officer, are still trying to come to grips with what happened. Forty-one year old Anthony Smashum died shortly after he was shot. Savannah Chatham Police said Officer Antonio Taharka, an eight year veteran of the police department, was the only one who fired his weapon. He has been charged with felony murder in connection with Smashum's death.

Brenda Osborne, the mother of Smashum's two grown sons, said the family is having a difficult time. Osborne was with Smashum in front of the corner store at 39th Street and Waters Avenue when police approached him and he tried to run.

"I'm not going to say he was a perfect person," she said, "because he was not, but he was a very good person. He didn't deserve this. Nobody does."

Brenda Osborne looked at pictures of the father of two of her three boys, a man she still considered a friend years later. She tried to stop Smashum from running from police when a female officer tried to talk with him.

"I was hollering at him, telling him, "Stop! don't run from them!" she said. "He wasn't hearing it or he just didn't hear me and proceeded to run."

She said two more officers got out of a car, one with his gun drawn.

"When he got out, the gun was already out," she said.

Brenda went home, never believing what would happen next. The chase ended in a neighborhood on 37th Street near the intersection of Waters Avenue. Anthony Smashum tried to climb a fence into someone's backyard to escape. He never made it. He was shot twice.

"I heard two shots," said Osborne, who lives close by, "not even thinking they were shooting at him because all they were doing was running behind him."

Osborne said she couldn't bring herself to go to the hospital. She kept in touch with family by phone. Just 30 minutes after Smashum's brother told her doctors would be bringing him into surgery, he told her Smashum had died.

"I just couldn't believe that just from him running from the police that they would kill him," she said. "That this man would actually shoot him because all he did was run."

She doesn't hate the officer charged with his murder; however, she does hope justice will be done.

"I can't say I hate him because you can't go around hating people," she explained. "I really feel sorry for him and his family but he shouldn't have taken things into his own hands when there were other officers right there to help him. An officer, someone you're supposed to trust, killed him. They're supposed to be here to serve and protect. That's what I was told. Not to gun someone down."

This is an especially tough time for Brenda Osborne. Just last month, her 24 year old son, Miquel Osborne, was murdered. Someone found his body on King George Boulevard. Police still have not found his killer.

Reported by: Liz Flynn,