Young man who lost use of legs after police shooting calls for change

Posted at 7:55 AM, Nov 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-08 07:55:09-05

MILWAUKEE (WISN/CNN) – A 19-year-old who lost the full use of his legs when police shot him two months has wondered openly about why officers didn’t use a stun gun or pepper spray instead.

Jerry Smith, 19, has not been charged with a crime after the Aug. 31 shooting, which happened after he ran from police because he was afraid he would be shot.

"Okay, I ran, but the officer scared the hell out of me, man. He got off that bike grabbing his gun because I matched the description of someone having a gun. I ran,” Smith said.

The 19-year-old was shot twice after a short foot chase led to a rooftop, where Smith intended to call his mom.

When he was confronted by police, Smith threw his hands up in the air. He did not have a gun on him, he says.

"There's other ways they could have went about it… There was more of them than me. And I wasn't even resisting. Like I would do whatever they wanted me to do. They just pulled the triggers,” Smith said.

One bullet grazed the right side of Smith’s head. The other ripped through his abdomen, causing internal injuries. It is still lodged in his pelvis.

Smith lost the full use of his legs, and doctors say it could take up to a year before he regains it.

The 19-year-old wonders why officers shot him instead of using a stun gun or pepper spray.

"That moment when I got shot, I felt like I was going to die. And I was asking, "Why did they shoot me?" Smith said. "I don't think that should happen. I had my hands up. There was only a phone in my hand."

Smith and his attorney, Walter Stern, say they want the police department to change its culture.

"I'd like to see some change – real change – where we don't have this kind of ‘shoot first, ask questions later,’” Stern said.

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