EXCLUSIVE: Man shot in viral police body camera video speaks only to CBS 58
The video from the August 2017 incident has more than one million views on social media.
It shows Jerry Smith, Jr. on a rooftop near 29th and Wisconsin being shot three times by two officers. The Milwaukee County District Attorney has cleared the officers of criminal charges.
Smith, Jr., 19 at the time, walks now with a cane because he says his right leg is paralyzed.
The incident began when police were called to a fight Smith, Jr. was in. He ran from officers and the chase ended on the rooftop.
Body camera video shows officers approach Smith, Jr. He has his empty hands extended outward and begins to lower himself to the ground before the shots are fired.
“[Seeing the video] really spooked me,” Smith, Jr. said. “It still is crazy. I watch it every day…I fear for my life every day with the Milwaukee Police.”
We showed the video to Bob Willis, a police trainer.
He says officers subconsciously process several elements when making split-second decisions.
For example, he points out Jerry doesn’t follow the police commands exactly to a tee.
“To you and I, the average observer, that may mean not much, but to an officer who’s seen those behavioral cues end up in disaster, it could mean life or death,” Willis said.
He says officers believing Smith, Jr. may have had a gun on the roof also factors in, and the fact that he ran from them at the start.
Smith, Jr. says he doesn’t regret that decision.
“I was scared for my life,” he said. “In that moment, I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.”
No gun was found on the rooftop, and Smith, Jr. says he never had one.
Smith, Jr. hopes to bring his case to a federal grand jury. He’s already filed a civil rights complaint.