Crime

Jury convicts man who fired shotgun at black teen who sought help on his doorstep

A Michigan man was found guilty this Friday for firing a shotgun at a black teenager who knocked on his door to ask for directions on how to get to his school.

The teen, 14-year-old Brennan Walker, missed his bus on the morning of April 12 so he walked up to the home of Jeffrey Zeigler to ask for directions. Minutes later, he had to run for his life as Zielger aimed a shotgun at him and fired. The boy was able to escape injury.

Zeigler, who is 53, was found guilty of assault with attempt to do great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, NBC News reports.

Zeigler was initially charged with assault with intent to murder, but the jury found that he “did not intend” to kill Walker.

According to his defense attorney, the firearm conviction comes with a mandatory two-year sentence that Zeigler must complete before his assault sentence even starts. On the assault conviction, he could get up to 10 years in prison.

Walker’s mother, Lisa Wright, said after the verdict that her son is still in therapy as a result of the incident.

“This will affect my son forever,” she said.

From The Washington Post:

A camera that appears to be on Zeigler’s porch captured the teenager, who is black, approaching the house wearing a backpack. Brennan testified Monday that Zeigler’s wife answered the door and immediately accused him of trying to break into the home, the Oakland Press News reported.

“I was scared. I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren’t listening,” Brennan testified.

Zeigler’s wife yelled, and Zeigler sprang out of bed, armed himself with a shotgun and ran out to the porch. Brennan, upon seeing the commotion, turned and ran from the house, the video shows.

Brennan was nearly out of the yard when Zeigler appeared, shirtless. He shouldered his shotgun and leveled the barrel in the teenager’s direction.

Defense attorney Robert Morad told The Oakland Press that race was not a motive in the incident, adding that Zeigler and his wife were on “high alert” after previous break-ins at their home.

Zeigler “acted from passion instead of judgment,” Morad told jurors during the trial.

Featured image via Oakland County Sheriff’s Office (NBC News)

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