A jury found a white Michigan man who shot at a black teen asking for directions guilty of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.
The verdict, delivered on Friday, may have hinged on a home surveillance video that captured 53-year-old Jeffrey Craig Zeigler walking onto his porch and firing his gun at then-14-year-old Brennan Walker as he ran off.
Zeigler was standing trial for a more serious charge, assault with intent to murder, The Root Reports.
Back in April, Brennan had missed his school bus and tried to walk the four miles from his stop to Rochester High School, about 20 miles outside of Detroit. Along the way, he got lost and started knocking on doors of nearby houses to get directions, eventually stopping at the Zeigler’s house.
After knocking on the door, Brennan says a woman in the house began yelling at him.
“She was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High,” Brennan told Fox 2 Detroit at the time.
Moments later, Zeigler, a retired fireman, came to the door with a shotgun in hand—Brennan took off toward the street after spotting the gun. As he ran away, Zeigler fired a shot at the boy.
Afterward, Zeigler claimed he never intended to fire the gun. Telling police that the gun accidentally went off after he fell backward and his finger hit the trigger, reports CNN.
But surveillance video from Zeigler’s home, which was shown to the jury at the trial, directly contradicted Zeigler’s lie. In the video, Zeigler can be seen, raising his weapon, taking a few seconds to aim at Brennan and then firing off a shot. The recoil from the shot sends Zeigler back.
Back in April, Brennan told Fox 2 Detroit he was happy he didn’t “become a statistic.”
“My mom says that black boys get shot because sometimes they don’t look their age, and I don’t look my age. I’m 14, but I don’t look 14,” Brennan said.
His mother, Lisa Wright, says race was definitely a factor, telling local news outlets she considered Zeigler’s actions a hate crime, CNN report.
“One of the things that stands out, that probably angers me the most is, while I was watching the tape, you can hear the wife say, ‘Why did “these people” choose my house?’” Wright told Fox 2 Detroit. “Who are ‘these people?’ And that set me off.”
When Ziegler testified in his defense during the trial, he said he didn’t try to see why Brennan was at the door because the scene was “so chaotic.”
“I was concerned about my wife. I was concerned that someone was coming through the door,” Zeigler said.
Of course, the video shows Brennan was waiting patiently on the porch, barely moving until the moment he ran off in terror at the sight of Zeigler’s shotgun.
Zeigler’s attorney says the verdict shows the jury didn’t believe that he was trying to kill Brennan.
Zeigler was also found guilty of possessing a firearm in the commission of a felony. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13.