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September 24, 2015

Delaware investigating fatal police shooting of man in wheelchair

Video published on LiveLeak shows moments leading up to shooting

Officials with the Delaware Department of Justice have opened an investigation into the fatal police shooting  Wednesday afternoon of an armed man in a wheelchair.

The incident occurred in Wilmington after police officers received a report of a man in a wheelchair with a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound, Sgt. Andrea Janvier told The News Journal.

The victim, identified by family members as 28-year-old Jeremy "Bam" McDole, had been in a wheelchair since a gunshot wound at the age of 18 paralyzed him from the waist down. When police responded to the 911 call at the 1800 block of Tulip Street, they reportedly found McDole armed with a handgun.

A cell phone video from the scene of the shooting, published on LiveLeak, shows multiple officers with guns drawn ordering McDole to drop his weapon. The officers repeat themselves several times before closing in on him and opening fire. McDole appears to have been struck several times before slumping out of his wheelchair. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday, the Delaware Department of Justice announced its investigation will determine whether the officers acted in compliance with state law. Their review, a requirement for all officer-involved shootings that result in injury or death, will be separate from any internal investigation by Wilmington police.

Making a determination about whether a person – including a police officer – should be criminally prosecuted under Delaware law is the responsibility of the Delaware Department of Justice and the department will make that determination following the investigation in this case.

Circumstances surrounding the shooting immediately came into question Wednesday afternoon when a cousin of the victim, Alexis Anthony, disputed the police account that McDole attempted suicide, The News Journal reported.

"They couldn't [use a Taser on] him?" Anthony asked. "Instead, they killed him instead. They could have knocked him out of his wheelchair."

On Thursday, more than 30 family members and friends of McDole's gathered at the scene of the shooting to mourn his loss, which they believe resulted from an unjustified use of force.

The Department of Justice is requesting information from anyone who has information about the incident. Those with direct information are asked to call Special Investigator Frank Robinson at (302) 577-8707.