The removal of the Augusta County Sheriff, Donald Smith, from office.
The removal of the Augusta County Sheriff, Donald Smith, from office.
Why this petition matters
In March 2021, human rights experts from eleven different countries released a report that describes the United States’ police brutality against African Americans as a long history of violations of international law that rise in some cases to the level of crimes against humanity. 15,000 people have been killed by police in the United States since 2005 with only 104 police officers connected to those incidents, being charged with murder or manslaughter. Out of the 104 police officers charged, only 35 were convicted of any crime.
The nonchalant behavior when it comes to confronting corruption within a police department by those in the position of power to make change is crucial if one is going to understand the depths of the oppression people of color have been subjected for centuries. It would be ignorant to label all police officers as corrupt, however labelling police departments, not just in the United States but around the world, as a tool to systemically oppress people of color is not unreasonable.
A prime example of corruption within a police department is in Augusta County Virginia where protests have erupted over the past month because of the police department’s refusal to use of body cameras after two separate police shootings resulted in the death of 48-year-old Jeffery Bruce, who was going through a mental crisis, and the hospitalization of 31-year-old Deonte Laron Harris. While the second largest county in Virginia, Augusta, use to have body cameras and dash cameras they were dismantled by the current county sheriff, Donald Smith, and his predecessor, R.D. Fisher. Using a long list of excuses that include budget, quality of the cameras, and lack of storage space and capabilities, they were able to dismantle all 16 of the mounted dash cameras the department had. When questioned about the situation, the sheriff office has consistently lied by saying that there haven’t been any grants written for any type of cameras since Sheriff Smith has been in office. County records show that on June 26, 2013, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-0 on a Sheriff’s department Grant which allowed the sheriff’s office to submit a grant for purchase of “in car” camera systems for patrol units. The Sheriff’s Office has since applied and received funding for patrol and tactical equipment through the same grant dating from 2009 to 2018.
When Donald Smith decides to reach into his custom-made bag of stupidity for an excuse to justify the criminal acts he has been involved in, one of two things happen. Either he comes off as a helpless and stupendously unqualified sheriff, or he comes off as a corrupt sheriff who is arrogant enough to believe he will continue to get away with his actions. Regardless of how you interpret Donald’s demeanor, he’s still and always will be, a wildly inappropriate selection for any position of power, let alone an Augusta Country Sheriff. To understand the importance of the protests for body cameras and a federal investigation into the Augusta County Sheriff Department, you need to know Donald Smith’s close friend and suspect lover, Felix Chujoy, a naturalized US citizen from Peru. According to Donald Smith’s Facebook, he and Chujoy met in 2010 when they both were training CrossFit Gym. In 2012 Chujoy was caught trying to solicit sex from a teenage boy during a sting operation conducted by police where an undercover officer posed as a 14-year-old boy. These types of cases aren’t typically difficult to prosecute however in Chujoy’s case prosecutors found proving his intend difficult because some of the online conversations were in slang. Eventually a judge dismissed Chujoy’s felony charges of indecent liberties and use of a communications device to solicit sex from a child following a defense motion to strike the evidence.
Chujoy and his mother, Maria Alvarado, were the focal point of a human trafficking investigation in 2014 by the Department of Homeland Security regarding undocumented workers at his mother’s restaurant, Inca’s Secret. Chujoy and his mother were indicted by a federal grand jury on several charges that included bringing undocumented immigrants into the country to work at the restaurant, working some of them 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Federal authorities said the immigrants were making about $1.50 an hour. Chujoy pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting. He was also found guilty by a jury on three felony counts: conspiracy to witness tampering, witness tampering and obstruction. Alvarado pleaded guilty to two felony counts of harboring people who entered the country illegally and two misdemeanors of hiring immigrants who were not permitted to work in the country.
When Chujoy and his mother were released on bond, they both ignored the instructions of law enforcement to not contact any of the witnesses regarding their case. Federal agents caught Chujoy using Donald Smith’s phone, along with other friends, to contact witnesses by reviewing the witnesses phone records. While Donald Smith was a sworn Augusta County Sheriff office and was actively running a campaign to become the next Augusta County Sheriff, Chujoy would steal the PIN numbers of other inmates to contact Donald Smith asking him to contact another witness in the case. Even though Chujoy placed the calls, some of the calls would come up under the identity of the of the inmate Chujoy stole the PIN number from, nevertheless, Donald Smith still answered the phone. As mentioned before, either Donald Smith is a victim of his own stupidity, or he conspired with Chujoy to steal the PIN numbers of other inmates to avoid the FBI. There are multiple recordings of the incriminating communications between Donald Smith and Felix Chujoy, yet Donald Smith told a federal prosecutor during a grand jury hearing prior to the trial, that he had never had any conversations with Chujoy regarding the case or witnesses.
On May 26th, 2021, Chujoy was indicted by the Augusta County grand jury on a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or distribute. Chujoy was able to evade capture for 20 days because the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office failed to enter the indictment capias into the Virginia Criminal Information Network within 72 hours of the indictment. This meant that Chujoy could only be arrested in Augusta County. Sheriff Donald Smith’s to his duties as a police officer, allowed Chujoy to evade police until being captured July 15th, 2021.
Donald Smith has consistently proven his lack of commitment to his duties of serving and protecting the people of Augusta County. We are happy to work with members of the reality TV show, “The System”, 10 individuals who travel around the United States fighting injustice by taking on companies and governments that abuse their power. The System provides a raw real world look at what it’s like to grow up America. They are currently leading the protests in Augusta County against the Sheriff’s department.