close and back to page

UPDATE: Man Found Guilty of a Lesser Charge for Shooting at Black Teen

Brennan Walker testified: "I turned back and I saw him aiming at me ... I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot."

The jury at Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan found Jeffrey Craig Ziegler, age 53, guilty of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

They deliberated less than three hours on Friday after closing arguments, where the prosecutor, Kelly Collins, argued that Ziegler "was the danger," not the teen. Brennan Walker narrowly escaped fatal injury because Ziegler forgot to turn off the safety on his 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun. The video showed he was unable to immediately fire at first, and police confirmed the safety was initially on.

Ziegler's attorney, Robert Morad, argued his client was firing a warning shot in the air one time and never chased after Walker.

The original charge was assault with intent to murder, punishable by up to life in prison, but Ziegler was convicted on the lesser charge and faces up to 10 years in prison.

He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Lisa Wright, Walker's mother, cried as the verdict was read. She had accused Ziegler of taking actions that were racially motivated. Her friend Carin Poole said justice was served "in some way."

Related Story: White Man Who Shot at Lost Black Teen and Called Him 'Colored' Stands Trial

Poole also said the hope was for a more serious charge.

According to a study done by the Equal Justice Initiative:

White defendants were 25 percent more likely than black defendants to have their most serious initial charge dropped or reduced to a less severe charge; approximately 15 percent more likely than similar black defendants to be convicted of a misdemeanor instead. White defendants with no prior convictions were over 25 percent more likely than black defendants with no prior convictions to receive a charge reduction.

Ziegler testified that he thought Walker was an adult, at 6-feet, 2-inches tall, and that "instinct" made him grab his gun to protect his wife.

Walker testified: "I turned back and I saw him aiming at me... I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot."

Morad said outside of court that the home security video could appear to show Ziegler was firing in Walker's direction, but said the shot goes away from where the teen was running.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said, "That's just completely unacceptable on every level. I don't know how you would justify it, but it certainly doesn't pass the muster," said Bouchard.

Judge Wendy Potts revoked Ziegler's bond and ordered him to jail pending sentencing Nov. 13.

Reader Question: When sentencing happens in a month, how much time in do you think Ziegler will be sentenced to?

White Man Who Shot at Lost Black Teen and Called Him 'Colored' Stands Trial

Shooter on trial might face life in prison, if convicted.

TWITTER

Jeffrey Zeigler, who is on trial for shooting at a lost Black teen in Rochester Hills, Mich., watched as his wife, Dana, broke down in tears in Oakland County Circuit Court on Tuesday, while testifying about the April 12 shooting, and watching a video of the incident.

Dana said she was frightened when she saw Brennan Walker, a 14-year-old Black teen, on her porch.

"What are you doing on my porch?" she recalled. "I saw a Black person standing at my door and I screamed at him, and I asked him what he was doing there."

Her report to police: "A Black male was trying to break into her house and her husband chased after him into the yard."

The video shows Zeigler aiming at the teen, despite the claims that he tripped and his gun fired.

Prosecutor Kelly Collins said that "being a bad shot does not negate one's intentions."

Walker, then age 14, had missed his bus to school that morning and came to the Zeigler's door for help. After his wife screamed, Zeigler fired a shotgun at the teen, but missed him.

Zeigler had referred to Walker, in an interview with a sheriff's deputy, as "that colored kid" at his front door. The defense initially claimed it was the interviewing officer who said "colored."

Zeigler also said he was "tired of being a victim."

His attorney, Rob Morad, has said that "race was not a factor in the shooting, but rather actions from passion instead of judgment," Morad told jurors. He said the couple had five previous break-ins and were on "high alert."

Walker's mother, Lisa Wright, who was also in tears in the courtroom watching the video of her son flee for his life, said that she believed the shooting was a hate crime and that she wanted to see the prosecution push this to the fullest extent.

In April, she said that she believed this was racially motivated. After watching a video near the time of the incident, she said: "You can hear the wife say, 'Why did these people choose my house?' Who are 'these people?' "

Walker testified that after he knocked on the front door, which is behind a screen door, Zeigler's wife accused him of trying to break in.

"I was scared," he testified. "I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren't listening."

Zeigler was arrested and released on $50,000 bond and ordered to wear a tracking device. He was charged with assault with intent to murder, which could lead to life in prison, Oakland County District Attorney Jessica R. Cooper said, along with use of a firearm in a felony.

Zeigler also has a conviction for firing a handgun at another motorist during a dispute in 2004.

Reader Question: Watching the video, would you say Zeigler is innocent or guilty of intent to murder?

"The View" co-host Sunny Hostin said Monday on the show that she and her friends had rented a cottage at a historically Black beach, which they've done for many years, but on July 4th, the group was verbally assaulted by teens yelling racial slurs.

Read More Show Less

Trump to Reverse Obama-Era Guidelines on Considering Race in College Admissions

Trump's efforts to rescind the affirmative action guidelines just add to the trend to erase landmark accomplishments of the Obama legacy.

The Trump administration plans to toss an Obama-era guideline that encourages colleges and universities to consider race as a way of promoting diversity.

Read More Show Less

AT&T's David Huntley Talks About Race and How Far We Have to Go

AT&T's SEVP and Chief Compliance Officer David Huntley has a frank conversation about race and how far we have to go to make things right.

I interviewed David Huntley, AT&T's SEVP and Chief Compliance Officer, some months back and we had a very good discussion; in fact, we went over the allotted time by 20 minutes, and that doesn't include the conversation we had before we got started. The interview definitely went off script but in a very positive way.

Read More Show Less

Are Your Employees Taking a Knee?

What corporate leaders can learn from NFL team owners' sudden support of their football players.

REUTERS

NFL football team owners, many of whom gave $1 million plus to the Trump campaign, largely sided with their players this weekend in their continuing nonviolent protests of injustice in our criminal justice system. Despite their previous support for the man, none of the owners fired any "son of a bitch" off the field for nonviolent protest, as President Donald Trump suggested.

I don't think the owners' stripes have changed; they just have more clarity than most CEOs because the way they make money is off the brains of their players, who are 70 percent Black.

So what should corporate leaders do today? If you haven't already thought seriously about making a statement, now's the time. No statement equals tacit approval of Trump and his divide and conquer political strategy.

Trump has said several times that "this is not about race." He's absolutely wrong; it's all about race. Remember, these nonviolent protests started after Ferguson — and subsequently took place following event after event, documented on cell phone video, and trial after trial where police have been exonerated for what is clearly unjust killing.

Starting with enslaved Africans brought here in 1619, confirmed in Article One, Section Two, Paragraph Three of our Constitution, where enslaved Black people are counted as three-fifths of a human being to determine the number of Representatives for each state in Congress, it is about race. Right up to the birther racist nonsense that Trump was the chief advocate for, it is about race.

If you are a leader, it matters what you think in times like this. Even if you've previously been supportive, like the suddenly-in-lockstep-with-their-players NFL team owners, you must take stock of what is in your stakeholder's best interests. Employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers — they are all looking to you for leadership.

There are some words/phrases you should definitely think about before they come out of your mouth: words like "tolerance" or "on both sides," or expressing respect for "all points of view." If your speechwriter put those things in there, I suggest you wait a day and write your speech yourself — unless, of course, you want to send a message.

If you don't have a grounding in why these things are offensive — not "might be" offensive, but are offensive — I suggest you read a few books and (if you don't already have some) develop some close Black friends to speak forthrightly with. Read Frederick Douglass' "My Bondage and My Freedom," Douglas Blackmon's "Slavery by Another Name" and Ira Katznelson's "When Affirmative Action Was White." You may even want to come to our event this week just to hear professor Carol Anderson, author of "White Rage."

If you are uncertain about the urgency of NFL player protests, read "Chokehold: Policing Black Men" by professor and former prosecutor Paul Butler.

And if you still think it's not about race, think about what Trump is talking about and consider the dire plight of American citizens on American soil in Puerto Rico. There is literally a dam about to burst.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

VIDEO: Michael Eric Dyson Explains Why Diversity is Essential in the U.S.

The renowned scholar spoke with DiversityInc at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 47th Annual Legislative Conference.

During the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 47th Annual Legislative Conference on Thursday, renowned scholar Michael Eric Dyson spoke with DiversityInc about why diversity is crucial for American society.

Read More Show Less

Prudential 4.01K Race for Retirement Calls Attention to State of Retirement Readiness

Nearly 12,000 people registered for the Race for Retirement at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena

Some ran. Some walked. Some jogged. Some may have balked. But all came away a little smarter and more aware about the importance of saving for retirement.

Read More Show Less

Report: Trump Campaign Pays Men More Than Women

An analysis finds the pay is not equal, and the staff is not diverse.

By Sheryl Estrada

Read More Show Less

Cox's Lissiah Hundley Talks About Addressing Unconscious Bias

Lissiah Hundley, Diversity & Inclusion Strategist, Cox Enterprises

Lissiah Hundley, Diversity & Inclusion Strategist, Cox Enterprises

Read More Show Less

President Obama, Misty Copeland Discuss Body Image and Race

"We socialize and press women to constantly doubt themselves or define themselves in terms of a certain appearance," said President Obama.

By Sheryl Estrada

Read More Show Less

Comcast's Chief Diversity Officer Talks 'Race' at Screening

The Jesse Owens' biopic "Race" offers lessons in overcoming obstacles.

Read More Show Less
© Copyright 2018 — DiversityInc All Rights Reserved.