Mazi Smith is Facing a Felony Gun Charge
Michigan defensive tackled Mazi Smith has been charged with a felony gun charge, according to Tom VanHaaren of ESPN. Allegedly, Smith was in possession of a firearm and did not have a concealed carry permit for the weapon. The incident occurred during a traffic stop on Oct. 7, 2022, and charges were filed on Nov. 30, 2022.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Smith’s attorney, John Shea, told the court that Smith working to get a concealed carry permit at the time of the incident. Since then, Smith has earned the permit.
Smith plays a key role in the interior of Michigan’s defense and he has started in all 12 of the Wolverierns games in 2022. Despite the incident occurring in October, Smith continued to play. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel was aware of the incident and clarified why he continued to play. He also added the university will continue to allow Smith to play.
“We are aware of the charge against Mazi from a traffic stop back in October,” Manuel said in a statement. “Mazi was honest, forthcoming and cooperative from the very beginning and is a tremendous young man. He is not and never has been considered a threat to the university or community.
“Based on the information communicated to us, we will continue to allow the judicial process to play out. Mazi will continue to participate as a member of the team.” Quote via ESPN.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh echoed a similar sentiment while advocating for Smith’s character.
“I have respect for our judicial process and with that respect brings confidence that a fair and just resolution is forthcoming,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said in a statement. “Mazi’s character and the trust that he has earned over the past four years will continue to be considered throughout the process.” Quote via ESPN.
Smith was charged in Michigan’s 15th district court which encompasses Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit explained that charges were not immediately filed because Smith was not arrested at the incident. This gives the police department more time to investigate.
“This is an unremarkable timeline for cases that are submitted to us when a defendant is not in custody,” he said. “If a defendant is in custody, we need to process cases faster — within 48 hours — and we have a separate queue set up to review in-custody cases. But when a defendant is not in custody, authorization of charges generally moves slower. It was a wholly unremarkable timeline when a suspect isn’t in custody.” Quote via Detriot Free Press.
Smith is currently one of the top interior prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. It is unclear if he will declare for the draft, but it is likely.
Smith could face up to five years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines if he is found guilty.