A man who was shot by police while unarmed has now spoken out about his horrifying ordeal.
19-year-old Jerry Smith Jr had been reaching for his mobile phone to call his mother when two officers shot him on a garage rooftop in Milwaukee, on the afternoon of August 31, 2017.
The police officers reportedly believed Smith had been reaching for a weapon and fired three shots at him. One of the bullets grazed Smith’s scalp, nearly entering his brain. He was hit by the other two bullets.
Smith has had to use a wheelchair since he left hospital. He has suffered permanent partial paralysis in his right leg, with the bullet which struck his hip still lodged in his pelvis. A section of his intestines have had to be removed as a result of his injuries.
Newly released body cam footage from the officer, obtained by Milwaukee news station, TMJ4 reveals how Smith had spread his arms and fingers as the two cops approached him with guns, showing them he was unarmed.
Smith appears to be lowering himself to the ground just before he is shot at close range.
Officers were sent to 29th street in Wisconsin after reports of a man with a gun. Smith reportedly matched the description of this man. Frightened by the officers, Smith fled on foot and was chased up to the garage rooftop.
In the footage, one officer can be heard stating, ‘He doesn’t have a gun in his hand, but he was hiding behind an AC unit’. However, the video does not show Smith hiding behind an air conditioning unit.
Speaking with TMJ4, Smith, who has stated he does not own a gun, described the incident:
They said ‘have your hands up, put your hands up,’ I had my hands up, my phone was in my right hand.
How is this justified? Jerry Smith Jr. does not have a criminal record. Jerry Smith Jr was not charged with any crime that day. Jerry Smith Jr had no weapon that day. #thisisamerica
— Jesse (@JesseEchev) November 26, 2018
– i just watched the body cam footage for when Jerry Smith Jr was shot & at the beginning of the video, a cop says he’s not armed but they STILL shoot him & say because they thought he was armed, but the first cop who caught him just told y’all he wasn’t !!! Disgusting 🤢
— ☯️kenbarb☯️ (@kennediiscool) November 26, 2018
Smith added how he still does not understand why the officers shot him:
I really don’t know why they shot me, OK I ran, but the officer scared the hell out of me man. He got off the bike grabbing his gun cause I match the description of someone having a gun.
Smith does not have a criminal record, and was not charged with any crime following this incident. Furthermore, no gun was found at the scene of the shooting.
Wa initiative #940 passed because of situations like Jerry Smith Jr. Had that not been recorded the officers involved would’ve likely received no punishment.
— freemase (@Maxey333) November 27, 2018
As reported by CBS 58, private investigator Daniel Storm – who is working on Smith’s federal civil rights lawsuit – has described the footage as being, ‘the most chilling video of a shooting of an unarmed man I have ever seen’.
We know what’s needed in this community, It’s not ice cream and toys. It’s accountability.
The officers have since been cleared of any criminal charges by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, with the DA’s office ruling the shooting as justified.
However, Storm hopes to get prosecutors to review the case, or else have the case put before a grand jury.
Both the officers involved in the shooting are reportedly still at work.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.