A Michigan man who shot at a lost teenager wants his sentence overturned.
In April 2018, 14-year-old Brennan Walker missed a school bus in Oakland County and decided to knock on Jeffrey Zeigler’s door to ask for directions, according to Fox 2 Detroit. Zeigler’s wife answered the door and mistook Walker for a criminal. She screamed for her husband’s assistance, as reported by The Oakland Press.
“The guy came downstairs and then he grabbed the gun and then I saw it,” said Walker shortly after the incident. “I started to run and then that’s when I heard the gun shot.” Walker was not harmed by the blast.
Zeigler later claimed the incident was an accident and he only intended to fire a warning shot. He said the gun discharged when he slipped and fell on the porch.
However, a home security camera filmed the incident, and the clip contradicted Zeigler’s story. Walker calmly walked to the door and rang the bell. Suddenly, he began to run away from the doorstep. Seconds later, a shirtless Zeigler runs out the door with his shotgun. He takes a couple of moments to aim the weapon before he fired one shot.
Zeigler was convicted in November 2018 of one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and sentenced to 2 to 10 years in prison. He is also required to serve an additional two years for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The sentences are to be served consecutively, meaning he must serve at least four years in prison.
On Thursday, Lisa Wright, Walker’s mother, was informed Zeigler wants his sentence overturned, Fox 2 reported.
“I kind of knew it wasn’t behind me, I was kind of preparing for this, but at the same time I wasn’t ready,” Wright told the station. “Especially with the way of the world right now.”
Zeigler argued he should be freed because his sentencing guidelines were handed down incorrectly.
“One of his main assertions is that he shouldn’t be in prison for his actions, that the court improperly departed upwards in the guidelines,” Paul Walton of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office told Fox 2 Detroit.
Zeigler asserted the consideration of his criminal record went ” beyond normal sentencing guidelines.” In 2004, he plead guilty to a misdemeanor for firing a gun during a road rage incident. Zeigler did not serve jail time.
Wright believes these claims make Zeigler a hypocrite. After the shooting, Zeigler told investigators he thought Walker was an adult because he is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
“If that’s the case then every other black person shouldn’t be reprimanded for what they did in their past,” she said. “They do the same thing to us, so why should you not be subjected to the same thing we are? Aren’t we all equal? That’s what they tell us.”
Zeigler’s actions reminded Wright of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black man who died after he tried to defend himself against two white men who were following him during a jog.
“Two men just chased down somebody and killed him,” she said. “Who is to say if he didn’t have a son or brother in the house that was capable of that, he wouldn’t have done the same to my kid?”
A court date on Zeigler’s motions is scheduled for June.