CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Tensions have been high since the release of the deadly officer-involved shooting at a Burger King in north Charlotte.
Many have seen the body camera video, including Panthers receiver Torrey Smith, who in an exclusive interview with Channel 9 said the footage brought back memories for him.
"I know when I speak people often think 'Oh my goodness, he's anti-cop,'" Smith said. "No, I'm not. I'm not anti-cop because I question the way you're doing your job. You should be doing your job to a higher standard. Even to me, I tweeted the other week about how I never understood my mom's fear of when I would go out, or be out of the house, or when I would be out of the house about police officers."
His tweet read: "When my boys are older, I'll tell them to comply, even if the officer is wrong. We can fight the abuse legally, but I can't bring you back to life."
It continued to say, "I never understood my mother's fear until I had my son."
"Everyone looks at me, I'm a pretty clean athlete," Smith said. "Never been in trouble, never drank, never smoke, honor roll student. All of these things like man, that's a pretty solid kid. I've had guns drawn on me three different times by officers."
Smith said the first time it happened, he was in 7th grade.
"And he's yelling at the car like 'Hey put your hands up, put your hands up.' And I'm in seventh grade, a little kid like alright," Smith said. "If you put your arms down, I'm going to shoot you. I'm in seventh grade."
He said it happened again when he was a senior in high school, walking through the neighborhood with his younger brother.
"I've never see a person in legit shock. He wasn't moving fast enough for the officer and I'm yelling at him, get down, what are you doing," Smith said. "He's yelling out commands and stuff and I'm thinking like man 'He's going to shoot my brother.'"
The third time, he said he was headed to college when an officer stopped him about a failed inspection.
"That's kind of why I try to be vocal on both sides because I recognize that every officer is not a bad officer," Smith said. "For every bad officer I've met, I've met a million good ones, but the million good ones don't speak out when the bad ones are making mistakes."
Smith said some experiences can change you for a moment, but others for a lifetime.
"I want to be an advocate for real second chances because I feel like we don't give those," Smith said.
Smith said the moment that changed him was when he and former teammate and close friend Steve Smith visited the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
The maximum security prison houses people who have committed some of the worst crimes you could imagine.
"To see these men, specifically, it was a few of these men who had people they've murdered," Smith said. "Their family members be there to support them in their freedom and them trying to be productive. The victim's family were there to support these men and recommend that they have a second chance at life even though that individual took away their lived one. And, I was like I don't think I've ever forgiven anyone of that magnitude."
Smith said the biggest lesson he learned was one on forgiveness.
"To see the type of freedom that some of the men had through Christ, I think that's really why he wanted me to be a part of it," Smith said.
Since moving to Charlotte last year, Smith has been using his voice and platform to push for social justice reform.
In that time, he has been touring courts and meeting face to face with the district attorney.
"I watched my mother, an individual who literally went to college, went to school, while she still had the label of being a convicted felon and continuously being told no," Smith said. "'I'm reformed, I'm trying to do the right thing. Now you're continuing to tell me no. I can't get this loan. I can't live here because of my record.' The biggest thing we need to do, especially on my end, is you have to get people to care about something that doesn't directly affect them."
Smith said the Panthers organization has been offering their full support to bring awareness to these issues and where needed, change.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.