A jury convicted Jeffrey Zeigler, 53, on Friday of felony assault for shooting at a black teenager who was in Zeigler’s suburban Detroit home seeking directions. (Photo: AP)
Washington (People’s Daily) - A Michigan man who fired at an innocent black teenager in April was found guilty of assault on Friday.
Originally charged with attempted murder, retired firefighter Jeffrey Zeigler, was found guilty of assault with intent to cause great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, the Associated Press reported.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, shows Brennan Walker, a black 14-year old, approaching Zeigler’s front door.
After Brennan had slept through his alarm, missing his bus to Rochester High school, he thought he could walk to school. In the video, Brennan can be seen carrying a backpack and wearing a hat. As he approached Zeigler’s door, he stops, turns around, and looks as though he might walk away, but then turns back around and approaches the door.
Moments later, Zeigler opens the door, shirtless, with a shotgun in his hands.
By then the teenager had made his way off of Zeigler’s property. Zeigler can be seen shouldering the shotgun and leveling it at Walker.
Ziegler fired one shot, which missed Walker.
In the moments leading up to the incident, Zeigler said he first woke up to the sound of his wife screaming, who later said in a courtroom she thought Walker was trying to break into their home.
Zeigler immediately told his wife to call the police and then grabbed his shotgun and ran to the front door. He said that when he fired his weapon, it was intended as a warning shot, and not meant to strike Walker.
Walker made his way to sheriff’s deputies who were responding to the earlier call made by Zeigler’s wife.
“When I saw that video I was shocked,” Shawn Pace, a detective with the sheriff’s office said in court last week. After watching it a second time he said it makes him feel “charged up, because I was offended by what I had seen.”
Zeigler’s attorney, Rob Morad, said that race was not a factor and that both Ziegler and his wife were on “high alert” as their home has been robbed five times. He “acted from passion instead of judgment,” Morad told jurors. Zeigler claimed the shotgun accidentally discharged after he slipped on the floor.
Walker’s mother, Lisa Wright, said she believed the incident was racially motivated. In a video following the incident, Ziegler’s wife can be heard saying, “Why did these people choose my house?” and “Who are ‘these people?’ "
After Wright watched the video she said it set her off, adding, “I didn’t want to believe it was what it appeared to look like. When I heard her say that, it was, like, but it is.”
On Friday, a jury found Ziegler guilty of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to the Detroit Metro Times.