Community trust in Wilmington police may have been ruined after officers killed a man in a wheelchair on Wednesday.
“I know that this incident can affect police and community relations. That’s the reason I’m here today, to ensure the families in the community that a thorough and proper investigation will be done,” said Mayor Dennis Williams during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Williams was joined by Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings, NAACP of Delaware President, Richard Smith and family members of Jeremy McDole, who was shot by police.
According to officials, there were four Wilmington police officers involved in the shooting of 28 year old Jeremy McDole in his wheelchair. It happened around 3pm Wednesday on the 1800 Block of Tulip Street. Police said the victim was armed with a .38 caliber weapon but McDole’s mother, Phyllis, shared a different story.
“This is unjust. He was in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, it’s video showing that. He didn’t pull a weapon, he had his hands in his lap when they opened and fired on him five more times,” McDole said.
Since the shooting, the officers have been placed on administrative duty. They were originally dispatched after reports came in of an armed man with a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
“We have an unfortunate situation here but we will get to the bottom of this. We want answers just like you want answers,” Williams said.
Chief Cummings maintained during the press conference that the officers engaged the victim and asked several times for him to put the weapon down and raise his hands up.
“The officers who responded to work that day did not look to take anyone’s life, they came out here because they wanted to help our community,” Cummings said.
The incident is now under investigation by the Wilmington Police Department. It will also include the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust, which is standard protocol whenever an officer discharges a firearm that results in injury or death of a person.
As for the victim’s family, the mayor said the investigation will be a transparent one.
“We want everybody to understand that the family will be notified step by step throughout this investigation because we do not want them to be in the dark,” Williams said.
Despite promised transparency, Smith, of the NAACP, called for a special prosecutor, police body cameras and suggested that it’s a bad idea to have cops investigating cops.
“We can’t treat poor folks the way we have been treating them. They have a right to live, they have a right to breath, they have a right to raise families,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, Thursday evening, community members organized a vigil for Jeremy McDole.