An investigation is being launched into the shooting of Jeremy McDole, who was killed by police in Delaware on Wednesday. McDole was shot while sitting in his wheelchair on the street, and McDole’s family has cited cellphone footage from a witness to challenge the Wilmington Police Department’s narrative of the shooting.
Wilmington police reportedly responded to a call that McDole, a 28-year-old black man, was suffering from a self-inflicted gun wound in a neighborhood near the nursing home where he lived.
During a news conference following the shooting, Police Chief Bobby Cummings claimed that when officers arrived on the scene, they found McDole “still armed with a handgun” and they repeatedly told him to raise his hands.
Cummings said it was after McDole refused to comply and reached for a handgun at his waistband that four officers opened fire on him. Cummings also claimed that after McDole was killed, the officers found a .38 caliber gun at his side.
McDole’s mother, Phyllis McDole, interrupted the news conference and insisted that there was video evidence showing that her son was not armed.
“He was in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. There’s video showing that he didn’t pull a weapon,” she said. “I need answers.”
The Delaware Justice Department’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust is investigating the shooting. Richard Smith, the head of Delaware’s NAACP chapter, has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the shooting in order to “not have cops investigating cops.”
While Cummings has maintained that he couldn’t confirm anything until the investigation is complete, a cellphone video was released online that showed footage of the shooting.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic content.
The cellphone video appears to show Wilmington officers confronting Jeremy McDole on the street, where he is sitting in his wheelchair. As they approached with guns drawn, they yelled at him to “drop the gun” and to put his “hands up.”
McDole, who appears to be bleeding, fidgets for a few seconds, rubbing his hands on his knees and thighs, and then tries to raise himself out of his wheelchair. The moment his hand touches his waistband, the four officers opened fire, striking McDole.
After he is shot, McDole freezes for a second and then falls out of his wheelchair and is motionless on the ground. No weapon appears to be visible in the bystander’s video.
McDole’s uncle, Eugene Smith, called the shooting “an execution” and said that when he saw his nephew 15 minutes before the incident, he did not have a gun.
“It was an execution. That’s what it was.” Smith said. “I don’t care if he was black, white, whatever.”