A family in Wilmington, Delaware is demanding answers about why wheelchair-bound Jeremy McDole was shot multiple times. Police officers say he threatened them with a gun, though video suggests otherwise.
In a video of the encounter on Wednesday afternoon, an unidentified officer points his gun at the 28-year-old, yelling “show me your hands!” A shot is fired, but it is unclear who it came from. The officer continues to yell for the man to put his hands up and “drop the gun,” and three more officers arrive for back up, saying “hands up, put your hands up,” with guns drawn. The witness who recorded the video notes that McDole is bleeding. McDole moves his hands around in his lap and appears to put one in his pocket, when the cops fire their weapons at least ten times.
Police say they were responding to a call that McDole shot himself, and that he was still armed with a .38-caliber gun when they arrived at the scene. It is hard to tell what McDole was doing throughout the video, although there does not appear to be a weapon in his hands.
You can watch the graphic video here:
Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings maintains McDole was removing a weapon from his waist, justifying the police response. But relatives of the deceased contend that McDole was sitting with his hands in his lap. They also dispute that he was suicidal.
“They shot him so many times he fell out of the wheel chair and onto the ground…he wasn’t armed,” McDole’s mother told several news outlets. “He didn’t have a gun.” One bystander later said he did not see McDole with a gun.
The Department of Justice has launched an official investigation. Four officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative duty.
According to a Washington Post database, 727 people have been shot and killed by police in 2015. But the Wilmington shooting also reveals how police escalate encounters with people with physical disabilities. There are numerous examples of cops assaulting handicapped people. One officer was sentenced to 40 months in jail for handcuffing a stabbing victim to a wheelchair and beating him with a weapon. A San Francisco officer tried to dump a man out of his wheelchair for running over his foot. And a double amputee in a wheelchair was shot and killed by an officer for waving a pen.