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'I had my hands up': Man shot by police says he didn't have a gun

Posted at 3:59 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 18:14:22-05

A man shot by police in August spoke to reporters for the first time Tuesday, saying he had his hands up and did not have a gun. 

A neighbor captured the shooting on cell phone video. It happened on the roof of a garage near 29th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. 

"I still got the bullet inside me," said Jerry Smith Jr., the man shot by police. 

He says he's needed a wheelchair since leaving the hospital in September. His right leg remains numb and he says the bullet that hit his hip is now lodged in his pelvis. 

He was also grazed by a bullet on his head. 

"I ain't never thought that was gonna happen to me," he said. "I didn't think I'd be in a wheelchair." 

According to police, officers were sent to 29th and Wisconsin on Aug. 31 because someone said there was a man with a gun. 

They found a man matching the description who then fled on foot and led them to the roof of a garage. 

"They said 'have your hands up, put your hands up,'" said Smith Jr. "I had my hands up, my phone was in my right hand." 

He said he ran onto the roof to catch his breath and try and call his mother. 

He ran initially he says, after an officer on a bicycle confronted him and scared him. 

"I really don't know why they shot me," he said. "OK I ran, but the officer scared the hell out of me man. He got off the bike grabbing his gun cause I match the description of someone having a gun."

Smith Jr. says he did not have a gun and doesn't own a gun. When we asked police if Smith Jr. had a weapon, they responded that it's all still under investigation. 

MPD detectives investigated the shooting since it wasn't fatal. State law does not require an outside agency to investigate. MPD says the initial investigation has been turned over to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office, but "follow-up items are still being investigated" by police. 

Smith Jr.'s attorney Walter Stern said a phone in someone's hand clearly isn't a gun and he hopes to bring attention to this story will lead to new training at Milwaukee Police.

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

The two officers who shot Smith Jr. remain on administrative duty. They both work at District 3. One is a 33-year-old man with 3.5 years of experience and the second is a 28-year-old man with 1.5 years of experience. 

Before this incident, court records show Smith Jr. had two charges against him dismissed in 2015. 

In October of this year, two months after the shooting, Smith Jr. was charged with beating up his 62-year-old grandfather over a dispute for rent money.