Newly released footage from the August 2017 shooting of unarmed Black man proves Milwaukee police were unjustified in the near-fatal encounter that left Jerry Smith Jr. partially paralyzed, a private investigator says.
Police body camera video released last week shows Smith with his arms and fingers spread wide as four Milwaukee Police Department officers corner him on a rooftop building on Aug. 31, 2017. As Smith begins to get on the ground, two cops fire at least three shots at close range, sending the young man toppling to the ground.
Daniel Storm, an investigator working on Smith’s behalf, called the footage the “most chilling” video of a shooting of an unarmed man he’s ever seen.
“This was wrong,” Storm told CBS 56. “We know what’s needed in this community. It’s not ice cream and toys, it’s accountability. The Black community will never trust a cop.”
The body cam video comes just months after Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern ruled in June that officers Melvin Finkley and Adam Stahl were justified in shooting Smith, who they believed was armed with a gun, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Storm says the video proves otherwise and is now pushing to have federal prosecutors look at the case or have the DA’s office submit it to a grand jury.
“The only way you’re going to get this community to have any faith in any of these black-and-white cars going up and down the streets is to let a jury decide,” he added.
In the video, four MPD officers are seen chasing Smith onto the rooftop, during which one of them remarks that the man “does not have a gun in his hand, but he was hiding behind an AC unit.” Officers climb to the top, and video shows Smith not hiding behind an AC unit as one of the officers had claimed.
By this time, Smith had turned around with his hands out to show authorities he was unarmed. His efforts to comply with officers’ commands to get on the ground were ultimately met with gunfire. The young man was struck twice while a third bullet grazed his head, according to the newspaper.
The shooting was preceded by a fight Smith and a friend were involved in nearby, in which two other individuals were armed with a knife and brass knuckles. When bike patrol officers arrived to assess the scene, Smith fled, sparking a chase.
Despite undergoing several surgeries, Storm said Smith will suffer permanent partial paralysis in his right leg.
Watch more in the clip below.
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.
The city fought to keep this video private because the DA there lied and said this was a justified shooting. It's not. pic.twitter.com/NApqRBjzSj
— Shaun King (@shaunking) November 26, 2018