Itching Powder Sprinkled On Man’s Gun Tattoo Makes Trigger Squeeze, Killing Him

gun tat
A close-up of Michael Smith’s gun tattoo


A Madison police officer will not face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of 41-year-old Michael Smith, the man with the life-sized tattoo of a handgun on his stomach, according to court records.

For the afternoon of July 21st, surveillance footage shows Smith feeding Canada Geese on the Oakland Town Beach when two masked men attacked him from behind. The footage shows one of the men pulling Smith’s shirt over his head, temporarily blinding him, while the other man repeatedly punched Smith in the face. One of the men took a gold packet out of his pocket and sprinkled its contents on Smith’s defenseless body. The footage then shows the two men fleeing the scene with Smith’s shirt in their possession. 3 minutes and 29 seconds later, the surveillance footage shows Smith struggling to stand. He stumbled out of the camera’s eye and into the first person that could’ve helped him, but unfortunately mistook Smith’s yelling for a threat and his tattoo for a real gun.

“I was standing in front of the [cop] car, using the hood to write tickets. All of a sudden, I hear someone screaming. I turn around and see this shirtless, wild-looking guy charging at me about to pull a gun from his waistband. I perceived danger. My instincts kicked in. It’s only one thing you do in that kind of situation. You survive,” said officer Brett Lowell. “I didn’t realize it was a tattoo until I tried kicking the gun away from his body.”

A nearby witness who recognized Smith from past media stories (see below) yelled, “Stop! You’re kicking him in the stomach. That’s a tattoo! Stop! That’s Mike! Michael Smith!”

Officer Lowell was cleared of any wrongdoing when medical examiners discovered the contents of that gold packet the masked men poured on Smith’s stomach was itching powder, which caused Smith to scratch the gun tattoo, appearing as if he was gripping the handle of a firearm.

Investigators said this was a calculated assault and personal for the attackers. Smith had 1,000 dollars in his pockets.


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If you saw a shirtless man charging at you yelling, rubbing what appears to be a gun from a distance, what would you do?


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