A witness on the scene shot a cellphone video showing one officer pointing a shotgun or a rifle at McDole in the wheelchair, screaming at him “drop the gun” and “hands up,” an instant before shooting McDole the first time.
McDole, in the wheelchair, appears to be bleeding. Three more officers, with handguns drawn, appear on the scene and scream at him to drop the gun.
McDole already suffering from the first gunshot wound fidgets in the chair, moving his legs with his hands, rubbing his knees with both hands, trying to raise himself out of the wheelchair. Officers claim they believed McDole was ‘reaching for a gun’ when his hands moved towards his waistband when three other officers unleashed a volley of shots that kill McDole. He then falls lifeless out of his chair and onto the ground.
No gun, other than those belonging to the officers, is visible in the video footage. Police said on Thursday they had recovered a .38-caliber handgun that they said had been at McDole’s side.
McDole’s family, at a gathering about an hour before the city’s press conference, disputed the police allegations and called for a federal investigation. McDole’s mother, Phyllis, said her son did not have a weapon and would never harm himself.
This was murder,” she said. “He shot my son like he was roadkill.”
“He wasn’t bothering anybody. He didn’t have a weapon or anything,” said Phyllis McDole. “He stood up and pulled his pants up and sat back down and put his hands on his lap and they opened fire on him.”
“They shot my son so much he fell out of the wheelchair,” she said breaking into tears. “He fell out the chair and on the ground. He wasn’t armed. He didn’t have a gun. He died by himself. He died alone.”
I raised my son to be a good kid,” she said. “He wasn’t a troublemaker. Every day he came here at 12 o’clock and took his nephew to the store to get water ice. What am I supposed to tell his nephew tomorrow when he doesn’t come to take him to get a water ice?”
Jeremy McDole’s uncle, Eugene Smith, was among a crowd who gathered at the scene of the shooting on Thursday, the AP reported. “It was an execution,” Smith reportedly said. “That’s what it was. I don’t care if he was black, white, whatever.”
Video of Jeremy McDole being gunned down may be too disturbing for some viewers.
State NAACP President Richard Smith also spoke, calling for an independent investigation from outside officials. He said police officers can’t be investigating other police officers from the same city.
Smith said his group arranged for McDole’s family to meet Thursday with a civil rights attorneys from Delaware. At this point, the city and the state need closure, Smith said.
“We can’t treat poor folks the way we’ve been treating them,” he said. “They have a right to live. They have a right to breathe.”
McDole was paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot in the back about 10 years ago and was living at the Hillside Center nursing home on the 800 block of South Broom Street, according to McDole’s great uncle, Vincent Smith.
“We want justice for my brother,” Ashley Morrison-Wright, 23, of Wilmington, said Thursday. “This isn’t right.”
Her brother spent a lot of time with family members, especially his grandparents, who lived near his home in Wilmington, she said.
“He was a very, very sweet man,” Morrison-Wright said. His sister said McDole never owned a gun.
Wilmington police chief Bobby Cummings and mayor Dennis Williams gave an update on the response to the shooting at a press conference in the city on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m sorry for the officers and family of Jeremy McDole, as this encounter, unfortunately ended with the loss of his life,” Cummings said in a statement. “I know that this incident could impact police and community relations, therefore, I will ensure a thorough and transparent investigation will be conducted.”
The four officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.