A black man in a wheelchair was shot and killed by police on Wednesday afternoon in Wilmington, Delaware. The man was allegedly threatening suicide by gunshot and refused to relinquish his weapon or put his hands in the air. The victim was 28-year-old Jeremy McDole, had at least one self-inflicted gunshot and was threatening to end his life with the remaining ammunition in his pistol when police fired on him. The family and community have spoken out, demanding to know why lethal force was necessary, and why the police didn’t attempt to neutralize Mr. McDole before ending his life.
A since-removed Youtube video of the incident surfaced shortly after the shooting, depicting McDole in his wheelchair as shots began to be fired. McDole’s mother, who saw the video, claims that it proves her son did not pull a weapon on police. The Wilmington Police Chief, Bobby Cummings, responded that the victim was in the process of removing the gun from his waistband when the shooting occurred and that “not one of those officers intended to take anyone’s life that day.”
Recollections of the video from those who witnessed it before its removal say that the scene showed an officer with a drawn service weapon approaching McDole and demanding he put his hands in the air and drop his weapon. McDole then moves around, apparently reaching toward his waistband, and then multiple shots are fired until McDole falls out of his wheelchair.
The officers who fired the shots have been placed on administrative duty while the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust investigates and determines whether or not the officers will be charged with excessive use of force. This agency investigates all police shootings that result in injury or death.
Jeremy McDole was wheelchair-bound due to a gunshot injury from 2005, when he was 18 years old, which paralyzed him from the waist down. Mr. McDole had a long criminal history and had recently been released from jail.
An upright wheelchair remained near the body, covered in a white sheet, for several hours after the shooting, even as family and friends arrived on the scene after news of their loved one’s death. Six of McDole’s family members crossed the police tape while demanding answers, before being stopped by officers and moved back to the appropriate area. The family also charged a man who laughed at the group, seemingly amused with the death of Mr. McDole. The man was asked by police to remove himself from the scene.
“They couldn’t [use a Taser on] him?” one relative told the News Journal. “Instead, they killed him instead. They could have knocked him out of his wheelchair.”
The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff has over 20 years of handling cases of police shootings, including the infamous Empire State Shootings in 2012. If you or a loved one has been injured or shot by police using excessive force, you may be entitled to compensation. Call our offices as soon as possible at (212) 962-1020 or (877) 675-4529 for a free personal consultation with one of our police shooting attorneys.