An unarmed Black man who police shot has been vindicated through recently released video footage that shows he posed no threat when police fired on him at close range last year in Milwaukee. The release of the body cam video confirmed both that Jerry Smith Jr., 19 at the time, had his hands raised when he was shot and that police lied about the circumstances surrounding the shooting on a rooftop.
A private investigator working on behalf of the family of Smith, who was left paralyzed in one leg from the shooting, made the footage public last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week.
“People just need to see this,” Daniel Storm said. Police “can buy toys and all the ice cream they want but until they’re held accountable, the black community will never trust a cop.”
According to the Journal Sentinel, “Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern concluded in June that Stahl and officer Melvin Finkley were justified in using deadly force because they believed Smith was armed or was reaching for a gun behind an air conditioning unit on the roof.”
But no gun was ever found — because there wasn’t one.
Smith ended has sued the city, police department and two officers involved, including Adam Stahl, the cop from whose body cam recorded the recently released footage.
The disturbing video can be viewed below. Please watch it with discretion.
The revelation was the latest black eye for a police department that has a very rich and recent history of brutality, especially toward Black people.
NBA player Sterling Brown was tased and arrested for a parking violation in January served as a recent wake-up call about the Milwaukee Police Department. Like Smith, Brown sued the police department, which later blamed him for his own arrest.
Milwaukee’s Black community members have protested for decades against police officers’ unfair, racist treatment, which was substantiated by the study, Urban Milwaukee reported. Protests grew when Dontre Hamilton, a Black man, was killed by officer Christopher Manney, who shot him 14 times on a park bench in 2014. The Justice Department didn’t charge Manney, who was only fired.
Also, the use of body cameras worn by Milwaukee officers has not reduced use-of-force incidents, according to a recently published Urban Institute study. Officers used force at roughly the same rates after they began testing cameras in 2013.
Milwaukee police also conduct more than three times the number of stops in primarily Black and Latino districts as in white districts, according to a study by the University Of Pennsylvania Law School Professor and Ph.D David Abrams published by the ACLU of Wisconsin in February. Black and Latino drivers there are more likely to be stopped and are more likely to be searched than white people.
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