The family of a wheelchair-bound man shot and killed by Wilmington, DE police are claiming that he was unarmed, and that police murdered him.

The fatal shooting of a man in a wheelchair by Wilmington police has some questioning the police’s use of force in the paralyzed man’s shooting death, with a unit in the state attorney general’s office investigating and the local NAACP calling for an independent investigation.

Police say Jeremy “Bam” McDole, 28, was shot Wednesday after police responded to a call of a man in a wheelchair with a self-inflicted wound.

On Thursday, Police Chief Bobby Cummings said McDole was armed and reaching for a weapon.

McDole’s family disputes that. His mother, Phyllis, said her son did not have a weapon and would never harm himself.

“This was murder,” she said. “He shot my son like he was roadkill.”

That’s certainly her opinion. Here’s the rest of the story.

Cummings said officers responded to a 911 call Wednesday about a man with a self-inflicted gunshot wound who was armed.

When officers arrived, he said, they repeatedly told him to put down his weapon and raise his arms.

McDole did not comply and reached for his waistband for a handgun, Cummings said. When McDole began to remove the gun, four officers opened fire. The chief said police found a .38 caliber gun at McDole’s side.

A cellphone video shows one officer pointing a shotgun or a rifle at McDole, screaming “drop the gun” and “hands up.” Three more officers, with handguns drawn, appear on the scene and scream at him to drop the gun. McDole fidgets, moving his legs with his hands, rubbing his knees with both hands, trying to raise himself out of the wheelchair.

Then he slides his hand up his thigh toward his waist and officers open fire. Several shots ring out. For a moment, the man in the wheelchair freezes, then falls sideways onto the ground. Motionless.

No gun is visible in the video, which was posted on YouTube

Local activist Keith James, who helped plan local rallies after acts of police brutality across the country, said for once, he’s standing on the side of police.

James, who is president of Voices 4 the Voiceless and a member of the CitizenAdvisory Council for the Wilmington Police Department, believes the shooting was justified after watching cellphone video posted online and said officers were in a dangerous situation.

“From what I see, they handled it in a justified manor,” he said. “If he didn’t have a weapon, that would be a whole different story.”

I watched the linked video in both real time and an 1/4 speed, and it sadly does little to clarify the situation, with one possible exception.

At the very end of the video, where McDole falls to the ground within a couple of seconds after a fusillade of shots, there is already a significant quantity of blood on the back of his underwear. As the police were all clearly in front of him, this suggests to me that the reports McDole was already suffering from a self-inflicted wound, and was sitting in his own blood for some time, seems to have merit.

Unfortunately, this appears to be a case of a man who was depressed enough to self-harm himself goading the police into a “suicide by cop” scenario.

I’m sure we’re going to have some armchair analysts asking why McDole wasn’t tased, and the simple answer to that question is that you don’t respond to a lethal force threat with a less lethal response like a taser or a chemical spray.

I feel sympathy for Phyllis McDole. No parent ever wants to think of their child as a threat to themselves or others. Unfortunately, it seems very clear that Jeremy “Bam” McDole was a threat to himself, and even a local anti-violence activist who watch the video agrees that officers had to take steps to defend themselves once they felt McDole was reaching for his gun.