Family insists man in I-75 standoff wrongly accused

Image 1 of 7

Marietta police are releasing new information about the man involved in a tense two-hour standoff with officers on Interstate 75 on Friday.

Police said Taylor Alexander Smith-Duffy is still considered a possible armed robbery suspect, but his family told FOX 5 News the retired Army veteran has been falsely accused. 

Police said Smith-Duffy, who was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and released from jail on Friday matched the description of the man who had robbed a Walmart on Cobb Parkway South earlier that morning. The armed robbery suspect fled in a grey Honda Civic.   

The standoff ensued after a Marietta police officer spotted Smith-Duffy's vehicle, which they said also matched the description of the suspect vehicle, and pulled him over near Windy Hill Road.

Police said they shut down the interstate and called in a police negotiator and Marietta SWAT after Smith-Duffy refused the officer's commands to exit the vehicle. They finally got Smith-Duffy to exit the car and he was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation.

Smith-Duffy's mother, Khadija Thomas spoke with FOX 5's Deidra Dukes by phone Monday. " I'm very thankful, thankful my son is alive."

Thomas insists her son is innocent and is eager to have his name cleared. She claims Smith-Duffy has never been in trouble with the law and was unarmed when police pulled him over.

"He's not doing very well.  He's in shock over what has transpired", Thomas said.

A Marietta police officer spotted Smith-Duffy's vehicle traveling along I-75 South.  Police said it matched the description of a getaway car used during an armed robbery at a Walmart on Cobb Parkway South earlier that morning. The officer pulled over the 25-year-old over near Windy Hill Road and the situation quickly escalated when Smith-Duffy refused the officer's commands to get out of the car. 

Thomas told FOX 5, Smith is an Army veteran and father of two, currently attending Kennesaw State University. 

She said Smith-Duffy suffers from anxiety and believes he froze because he was terrified. 

Officers, believing Smith-Duffy might be armed, did not immediately approach the vehicle after they pulled him over.

Thomas said officers began giving her son verbal commands over a loudspeaker, leaving  Smith-Duffy, who had no idea why he was being pulled over, leaving him confused and anxious.

" I'm thankful for the fact that he is alive and that it didn't turn south.  He was unarmed, he was paralyzed with fear. He was in a state of shock."

Marietta Police responded to the mother's claims in a written statement which read in part, "any time a crime occurs, officers quickly send out the description of the suspect so other road officers can watch for anyone matching the description. Standard practice is to stop and question anyone matching the description in order to determine if they were involved.

"Mr. Smith-Duffy is still a person of interest and detectives are still conducting their investigation to make a determination on his involvement in the robbery," Marietta police said.

MORE: Standoff on I-75 with robbery suspect ends in arrest