Dimitri Smalls: Man shot by West Palm Beach police officer following altercation, mom speaks out

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A man who was allegedly armed with a gun was shot on Sunday by a West Palm Beach police officer after investigators said an altercation broke out between the two men.

The family of the alleged gunman identified him as Dimitri Smalls, 20, while waiting outside of St. Mary's Medical Center.

Investigators said the shots rang out shortly after 1:00 p.m. at the Woodstock Apartments near the 1800 block of North Congress.

"I heard some pop, pop, pop but I wasn't sure if it was firecrackers or not," said Olga Principe, a resident of the apartment complex.

City spokesperson Elliot Cohen said police received a phone call from a resident at the complex about a suspicious man.

When the responding officer arrived and spotted the suspect, he allegedly ran from the officer, investigators said. The office then noticed the suspect had a gun, Cohen said.

Cohen said the suspect was ordered to put down the gun, but he refused, which forced the officer to pull out his gun and fire.

"If you're armed and you're confronted by a police officer, you need to listen to what that police officer tells you and if you don't, obviously that police officer is justified in doing what they need to do," said Cohen.

Spokesperson Allen Ortman said the suspect was shot in the stomach and taken to St. Mary's Medical Center.

Family members of Smalls said they do not agree with the information coming from police.

Tabitha Gilbert, the mother of Smalls, said according to the witnesses she spoke with, Smalls was not shot in the stomach.

"He didn't get shot in the stomach, they don't want to say that because they don't want to justify what the police has done. They were wrong. They shot him while his back was turned," said Gilbert.

Gilbert said her son is a typical young man who likes to play video games. She said she has never seen Smalls with a gun. Gilbert said her son was just trying to visit his aunt at the apartment complex.

"All I know is that my son was shot. What else happened, I don't really care right now, you understand? I just want to see my baby," said Gilbert.

According to criminal records uncovered by WPTV NewsChannel 5, Smalls was arrested and charged as an adult when he was 17 years old for an unarmed-burglary charge. 

Investigators said the officer involved was not hurt and was placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol.

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