When No One Else Will Do: Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith Awards Himself Top Honors
Written by: Sam Orlando
Sheriff Smith, Meet Sheriff Smith: Augusta County’s Top Cop Awards Himself for Valor
AUGUSTA COUNTY, VA — As if fresh out of a satire skit, Sheriff Donald L. Smith of Augusta County adds a new feather to his cap—or perhaps, a new badge to his uniform. You see, he has won the Sheriff's Medal for "lifesaving efforts in rescuing three children involved in a motor vehicle crash." The real kicker? He appears to have awarded it to himself, according to a Facebook post on the Augusta County Sheriff's Office's official page.
Just 17 days ago, we reported that Sheriff Smith was having trouble getting a motion to dismiss a $5 million lawsuit for alleged police brutality. You remember Marvin Harris, right? The man whose legal battle against the Sheriff has not only attracted a second law firm but also highlighted what critics call a flawed dismissal strategy. But it seems the Sheriff has moved on—or maybe just moved the goalposts.
Sheriff Smith took to social media to honor himself with a medal. Ah, the circle of self-adulation is now complete. But let's be clear; helping kids in a car crash is undoubtedly heroic if that's indeed what happened. The problem is, there are no other details, no context, and no outside validation of this so-called "award."
Given that the Sheriff's recent run-in with the court left him, as Marvin Harris's lawyers put it, "foundationally on a flawed standard and negative inference," one can't help but wonder: is this medal built on the same shaky foundation?
The previous lawsuit brought up questions about Smith's willingness to "insulate behavior from punishment," according to court filings. If that's anything to go by, is the Sheriff now insulating himself with honor, quite literally?
Police accountability activists, many of whom see Harris's case as a step towards broader police accountability, might have something to say about these optics. While the community is rife with skepticism over the Sheriff's actual contributions to justice, he seems to have taken 'justice' into his own hands—in medal form.
Whether or not Sheriff Smith deserves this award remains unverified, but the medal does set a precedent. It raises the bar for self-congratulatory acts in law enforcement, if not for actual law enforcement standards.
As the Augusta County community continues to watch the unfolding legal drama around Sheriff Smith, many must wonder: if he can't win in court, can he at least win in the court of public opinion? It seems like the Sheriff is willing to give it the ol' college try, even if he's the only one on the judge's panel.
Editor's Note: This story is based on ongoing legal cases and social media posts. All individuals mentioned are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.