The Wilmington police are being accused of using deadly force in the shooting of a paralyzed wheelchair-bound man in a lawsuit against the city.
The family of 28-year-old Jeremy McDole is also suing the Wilmington Police Department, Police Chief Bobby Cummings and the officers involved. In the civil rights lawsuit the police are identified as poorly trained officers who shot McDole 16 times.
“A young handicapped black man died here. The WPD has had poorly trained officers kill others in the past. The family and the community need to know the facts,” said the family’s attorney Thomas Crumplar of Jacobs and Crumplar law firm.
The complaint listed lesser forms of force police should have taken on the September 23rd shooting in the 1800 Block of Tulip Street in Wilmington. Some of the actions named were a stun gun, a taser, pepper spray, tear gas, rubber buckshot or a bean bag shotgun.
“Surely the Wilmington Police Department can train it’s officers better when they feel they are in danger than executing someone simply because they can’t see their hands,” said Tom Neuberger, also on the legal team representing the family.
A 9-1-1 caller and police both reported McDole had a gun. The caller also said on the recording that McDole shot himself. The victim’s family disputed those claims. Lawyers even alleged in the complaint that there may be more to that 9-1-1 caller. The caller is believed to be an accomplice to someone who robbed Jeremy McDole the day of the police shooting.
“I alleged that it was a suspicious call and I think if you go online, anybody listening to that tape of that call would find it suspicious,” Crumplar said.
Since then the Wilmington police and the attorney general’s office have launched individual investigations. Although the investigations are still ongoing, the names of the four officers involved have been withheld during the process.
“The police are not a secret police. We don’t live in a Communist country. They are members of the public authorized to use deadly force in certain circumstances. Why are the names being hidden,” Neuberger said.
In the complaint, the officers are listed as “John Does” which isn’t typically allowed in a court of law. However, lawyers filed a motion to allow them to sue the officers even under the temporary “John Doe” names.
“It’s handicapping our right so they absolutely have to give us their names,” Crumplar said.
“Once we get the names of the shooters we can check in the community to see whether or not there have been other incidents with these people where they have mistreated or have made racial comments,” Neuberger added.
Since the shooting the family and community have organized several marches demanding answers. They have also called for Police Chief Cummings to step down from his position.
Meanwhile, lawyers strategically announced the lawsuit today since it marks the 25th anniversary of the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles by four white police officers.
“We think it’s very appropriate that today, 25 years later, we’re announcing the investigation of a death of a young handicapped black man at the hands of four white police officers,” Neuberger said.
From this point on, lawyers have advised the McDole family to not speak about the case. The family was originally being represented by William Murphy, a Maryland attorney who is now cooperating with the current legal counsel.