The family of a wheelchair-bound man shot to death by police in Wilmington, Del. last year has filed a lawsuit against the police department.
Video surfaced last fall of the deadly encounter between 28-year-old Jeremy McDole and Wilmington Police officers on Sept. 23. Police met with McDole, who was reported to be armed and suicidal, on the 1800 block of Tulip Street after they responded to a call shortly after 3 p.m. that day of a man possibly suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The one-minute-and-19-second-long video, recorded by a witness on a smartphone and posted to YouTube, shows McDole, in his wheelchair, being confronted and eventually shot by police officers.
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Multiple gunshots can be heard in the clip. In the aftermath of the shooting, Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings said he believes the officers were justified in using deadly force and that they recovered a .38-caliber handgun at the scene.
"The officers perceived what was a threat and they responded and they engaged," Cummings said. Four officers were involved in the shooting, officials said. They were all placed on leave after the shooting. The Delaware Attorney General's Office is continuing to investigate.
McDole's family denies that he was armed and says police did not need to use deadly force against the man. In filing their suit, they said they believe race played a factor in his killing.
"Why couldn't you tase this man out of his wheelchair," asked his sister, Letesha Green, in the days after the shooting. "Why couldn't you use rubber bullets to get him out of the wheelchair?"
Richard Smith, of the NAACP of Wilmington, said on Thursday as the McDole's family announced their suit that the police used excessive force.
"They shot this man so many times, his body raised out of the chair," Smith said.
Tim Crumplar, the family's attorney, said McDole never posed a threat to the officers.
"There was no threat to them or anybody else," he said. "The only threat that day was to Jeremy McDole, and we know how it ended."