Smiley Martin, suspect in 2022 Sacramento mass shooting, dies in prison, lawyer says

SACRAMENTO – An inmate who died in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail early Saturday morning was identified by his attorney as Smiley Martin, one of three suspects charged in the 2022 Sacramento mass shooting that left six dead and 12 injured.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office reports that around 2:15 a.m., officers checked the cell at 5-East 300 Pod and found an unresponsive inmate. Deputies responded and began administering first aid, and jail medical staff also responded.

Sacramento Fire crews took over rescue efforts, but the sheriff’s office said the inmate was pronounced dead at the jail.

Smiley Martin


Norman Dawson, Martin’s lawyer, confirmed that it was his client who died.

“The public defender, Amanda Benson, and I have been in contact with jail command. They are conducting their investigation. They likely won’t provide any details until they conclude that process,” Dawson said in a press release. “It is extremely tragic that Mr. Martin died while fighting to defend his innocence at the preliminary hearing.”

The sheriff’s office did not release Martin’s name, but noted that the inmate has been in custody since April 20, 2022.

The exact cause of death is currently under investigation by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

Sacramento mass shooting case

Martin was one of three suspects charged in the late-night Sacramento mass shooting of April 2, 2022, that left six people dead. The brazen shooting in the heart of downtown Sacramento also left a dozen injured in what authorities described as a gang fight between “multiple rivals.”

Martin, his brother Dandrae Martin and a third man, Mtula Payton, were all charged with murder in the shooting. All three are already convicted criminals.

Legal proceedings in this case are ongoing. The three suspects last appeared in court in February. 23 for a preliminary hearing.

Just weeks before the shooting, Sacramento County agreed to pay Martin $7,500 as part of a settlement surrounding a 2018 lawsuit in which he claimed a prison guard was responsible for attacking members of rival gangs.

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