Body cam footage released from an August 2017 shooting of an unarmed Black 19-year-old male in Milwaukee shows him complying with officer commands as he was shot several times.
Jerry Smith Jr. survived gunshot wounds to the abdomen and head, but is paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. He has had multiple surgeries, infections in his heart, and a bullet still lodged in his body.
Officers Melvin Finkley and Adam Stahl, who both shot Smith, were saying in the video that Smith didn’t have a gun on him, but must’ve had it hidden behind the air conditioner.
Activist Shaun King pleaded with social media to watch the video, which is jarring:
I need you to watch this.
1st, the good news – Jerry Smith, Jr. survived this horrific police shooting from the @MilwaukeePolice. He’s paralyzed, but survived.
“We’re asking the U.S. Attorney’s office to now look at this video, make an independent decision or recommend to District Attorney Chisholm to submit this to a grand jury,” Daniel Storm, a forensic investigator working with Smith’s attorney Walter Stern, said. “His right leg, he has partial use of it. We can only hope that the US attorney would get involved because we may have a violation of civil rights.”
“An unarmed man had committed no crime, no criminal history, no drugs and is getting on the ground with his fingers spread when the officer opened fire,” said Storm. “Lucky to be alive because the one bullet just grazed his head.”
“I really don’t know why they shot me,” Smith said. “OK, I ran, but he, the officer, scared the hell out of me, man. He got off that bike grabbing his gun, grabbed the gun. Cause I matched the description of someone having a gun, I ran.”
Storm released the body-camera video from officer Adam Stahl: “People just need to see this. Police ‘can buy toys and all the ice cream they want but until they’re held accountable, the Black community will never trust a cop.”
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office ruled that shooting was justified. Officer Melvin Finkley said in a statement that he “perceived Mr. Smith was reaching for a weapon concealed behind the air conditioning unit.”
“Officer Adam Stahl said that he shot Smith because he “feared for Officer Finkley’s safety and for his own.”
There is no independent investigation. The officers are on administrative duty and the city is backing them.
Smith is suing Milwaukee and the police department. “I’d like to see some change, real change where we don’t have shoot first, ask questions later,” added his attorney, Walter Stern.
Reader Question: There was no independent investigation because the DA deemed the shooting justified. Should there have been an independent investigation