PHOTOS BY JOHN DOUGLAS
Just before 11:30 pm Friday night, several officers of the Columbus Police Department were in the process of conducting a business check at Club Heidiho, when they noticed a black Chevrolet Camaro speeding North on 22nd Street. Officers Canyon Boykin, Rebecca Lomax and Brian Jenkins attempted to flag the vehicle down with their flashlights. The driver brought the sports car to a screeching halt and immediately backed into an empty parking spot across the street from the nightclub. As Boykin and Lomax approached the vehicle, Jenkins got into his patrol car to pull it closer to the Camaro.
When the officers approached the black car, the driver pulled the vehicle back into the street and accelerated south away from the scene. Jenkins quickly stopped the car in front of the Premier Lounge (just a few doors South of Club Heidiho) and waited for the other officers to catch up. CPD Officer Chris Sykes and newly promoted Cpl. Michael Griffin, who were also in the area, responded to the traffic stop as well.
When the officers approached the car, they identified the would-be getaway driver as Packet All-Star Robert Earl Smith, Jr. While Jenkins spoke with Lomax, Smith exited his vehicle. As Jenkins told the driver to get back in his car, he spotted two guns inside the car; a handgun in the center console and a larger gun in the back floorboard behind the driver’s seat.
Smith and his passenger, identified as the driver’s brother, Orlando Smith, were ordered out of the vehicle and told to stand towards the rear of the Camaro with Sykes and Lomax. Jenkins reached into the car and removed the handgun, a small frame .40 caliber Taurus Millenium. The gun was unloaded and had no magazine inserted. Jenkins then slid the driver’s seat forward to retrieve the larger gun. When extracted, the impressive piece of hardware was revealed to be a .45 caliber Masterpiece Arms MAC-10 with a fully loaded extended 30-round magazine and what appeared to be a silencer fitted to the barrel. Jenkins alerted Cpl. Griffin to the guns and and Investigator Tabertha Hardin was contacted to come to the scene. Hardin advised that the two men should be put under a hold at the Lowndes County Detention Center until she could finish her investigation.
[The presence of the MAC-10 put everyone on edge because the gun is commonly recognized as a sub-machine gun, with the fully automatic model being commonly associated with street violence. It is illegal to possess a fully automatic firearm, or “assault weapon”, in the state of Mississippi without also carrying a Class 3 weapons permit. Both occupants of the vehicle possessed valid firearms permits, but both were only Class 1 permits. Either a fully automatic handgun or a silencer would constitute an assault weapon individually, but to have both together would mean serious federal charges for Smith. – JD] While waiting for Hardin to arrive on scene, both men were detained. When Robert Smith, Jr. was instructed to empty his pockets, he removed a large wad of cash and a fully loaded .40 caliber magazine that belonged with the Taurus. The magazine was put with the guns.
Smith was informed that he was suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, noting his erratic driving and strong smell of alcohol clinging to himself and the inside of his vehicle. He refused a portable breathalyzer test on scene, but did submit to a field sobriety test (which he failed). He was later transported to the Columbus Police Department, where he refused to submit to a test on the Intoxilyzer 8000.
During the investigation and his subsequent arrest, Robert Smith, Jr. was very irate, cursing the officers. At one point, he peeled a handful of cash from the roll in his pocket and gave it to another black male, identified as his brother, telling him to come bail him out of lockup. He spoke to Lomax several times, saying, “Why you bein’ so mean? You ain’t never this mean when you alone.”
Orlando Smith had a bench warrant with the City of Columbus, which was served and he was transported directly to the LCADC. He is an employee of J5, a Columbus-based consulting firm owned by Jabari Edwards. Edwards on Wednesday said J5 is a different company than the recently-hired city project management group J5/Broaddus.
“J5 is not Broaddus Edwards or J5/Broaddus,” said J5 owner Jabari Edwards. “Orlando is an employee with J5 but he has never worked on a city project. He has never worked on a project in Columbus.
It was later determined that the MAC-10 was only a semi-automatic and the “silencer” was a decorative barrel extension.
Robert Earl Smith, Jr. was charged with DUI – Refusal and Careless Driving.
Both Robert Smith Jr. and Orlando Smith are the adult children of Columbus Mayor Robert Smith.
Robert Smith Sr. on Wednesday said there was nothing “illegal nor unethical” about his son’s employment with J5.