Footage shows the moment that four Delaware police officers approached and fatally shot disabled African American, Jeremy McDole, 28. Police authorities said the incident is being investigated, but a relative of the man has called the shooting “an execution. ”
Wilmington Police officers responded to a 911 call at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon that a man in a wheelchair was “trying to kill himself” with a gun. The man had allegedly shot and wounded himself.
When officers arrived at the scene in Tulip and South Scott streets Wednesday, they found the paralyzed African American sitting in a wheelchair.
McDole was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by a friend in 2005 at age 18.
[Warning: Some viewers may find the footage distressing]
The graphic one-minute 20-second cell phone video, taken by a witness, who uploaded it to YouTube on Thursday, shows four police officers approaching McDole and shouting repeatedly “drop the gun.”
Although the officers shouted repeatedly to McDole to drop his weapon, there is no evidence from the video that he was holding one.
But when McDole makes a series of movements and his hands move towards his waist, the officers opened fire and killed him with several shots to the body.
The scene opens with an officer approaching the disabled man, shouting, “He’s over here! Show me your hands! Show me your hands.”
Then a shot rings outs. It is not clear from the video where the shot came from but someone behind the camera comments that McDole has been hit and that he is bleeding.
More cops appear, shouting, “Show your hands! Drop the gun! Drop the gun!”
Although the officers order McDole to drop his weapon, there is no evidence that he is holding a gun.
McDole, who had reportedly shot himself in an alleged suicide attempt before the officers arrived, appears to be bleeding. Then he makes a series of movements. Police said he was trying to reach inside his pocket.
At this point, the officers open fire. At least seven shots are fired.
The victim jerks on the chair, slumps over, and falls off the chair to the ground, lifeless.
Police Chief Bobby Cummings said officers recovered a.38 caliber from the scene. He defended the officers, saying they did not want “to take anyone’s life on that day.”
He suggested that the officers did the right thing because they had ordered McDole multiple times to drop his gun. They opened fire only after he tried to pull his weapon.
“The officers perceived what was a threat and they responded and they engaged.”
But members of McDole’s family are protesting the shooting. Phyllis, McDole’s mother, and his sister, Letesha Green, have criticized police handling of the incident. They argued that the officers had ample opportunity in the circumstances to use other means to arrest the man but did not avail themselves of the opportunity. Instead, they walked straight up to the already wounded man demanding that he drop his weapon and opened fire when he made movements with unclear intentions.
Phyllis interrupted Cumming’s press conference and challenged the police version of the event.
She asked, “Why couldn’t you taser this man out of his wheelchair. Why couldn’t you use rubber bullets to get him out of the wheelchair?”
“He was in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. There’s video showing that he didn’t pull a weapon.”
A witness, Sean Owens, told NBC Philadelphia, “He was trying to shoot himself up there. I think he may have shot himself once or twice, but he shot the other shots in the air.”
McDole’s uncle, Eugene Smith, also said he saw him some minutes before the incident and that he did not notice he was carrying a gun.
“He had a book bag,” Smith said, “but I never seen (sic) a gun. It was an execution. That’s what it was. I don’t care if he was black, white, whatever.”
Smith said McDole was released from prison last year and was living in a nearby nursing home. He had a long criminal record for offences including disorderly conduct and drug possession.
He was shot in the back in 2005 by a friend identified in court records as Randal Matoo.
Police Chief Cummings said the officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative duty and that the incident was being investigated to determine whether the officers could have acted differently.
A crowd gathered outside the home of the McDoles for a candlelight vigil Thursday. Many left flowers and tributes at the scene of the shooting. Members of the crowd who spoke with reporters condemned the shooting and suggested that responding officers could have handled the incident differently.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams reportedly visited the McDoles and expressed condolences.
[Images: YouTube screengrab]