A Delaware man who was paralyzed by gunfire 10 years ago was fatally shot by police Wednesday when authorities say he refused to drop his handgun — a claim his family vehemently denies.
Graphic video appearing to capture the terrifying shooting initially shows 28-year-old Jeremy McDole quietly slouched in a wheelchair in a Wilmington street before he’s approached by several armed officers.
Police say they were responding to a man who had shot himself when they found McDole “still armed with a handgun” in the street around 3 p.m., Police Chief Bobby Cummings said during a news conference Thursday.
Seconds after the first officer appears to spot McDole — calling to his fellow officers with “he’s over here!” — McDole’s heard being ordered to “show me your hands” before a single shot rings out.
McDole appears wounded when seen at a closer angle though it’s not clear where or if by the officer’s gunfire.
Several other officers join in on ordering him to raise his hands. When McDole appears to reach into his pants, at least 10 shots are heard fired.
In an extremely gripping scene, McDole is next seen sliding out of his wheelchair and onto the ground, his clothing visibly soaked in blood.
Cummings said the cell phone video capturing the shooting appears to be authentic.
“He was in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. There’s video showing that he didn’t pull a weapon … I need answers,” his mother, Phyllis McDole, said while interrupting Cummings’ press conference.
“I assure you that not one of those officers intended to take anyone’s life that day,” Cummings said.
The police chief said he was not aware of any attempt by officers to use nonlethal force before shooting McDole. He also would not say whether he thought the situation should have been handled differently.
“Only our thorough investigation will reveal that,” he said.
That task will be aided by the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust, they announced Thursday.
McDole’s family is meanwhile arguing authorities’ claim that he had a gun in the first place.
Police said a .38-caliber gun was found by McDole’s side after he was shot.
His uncle, Eugene Smith, said he was with him about 15 minutes before the shooting and he didn’t see a firearm.
“He had a book bag, but I never seen a gun,” Smith told an Associated Press reporter while standing among a crowd of a couple dozen people at the scene of the shooting on Thursday.
“It was an execution. That’s what it was. I don’t care if he was black, white, whatever,” he said.
McDole is black while the race of the four officers who fired was not released.
Smith said his nephew had gotten out of jail about a year ago and was living in a nursing home.
He was paralyzed from the waist down in 2005 after being shot in the back by a friend as they smoked marijuana and walked around a neighborhood, according to court documents.
His arrest record dates back to that same year. It includes convictions for drug possession and disorderly conduct. In November, he was found to have violated his probation.
He was additionally arrested for carrying a concealed deadly weapon and resisting arrest, but those charges were dropped.
All four officers involved in the shooting are on administrative duty. One of the officers has been on the force for 15 or more years, and the others had been there for about five years, the police chief said.