Surveillance video released to jurors Tuesday in the trial of Jeffrey Zeigler shows the white Michigan man aiming and firing a shotgun at a black student who has said he was seeking directions after missing his bus to school.
Brennan Walker, then 14, said he knocked on Zeigler’s front door in Rochester Hills on April 12 to ask for directions to his high school. Moments later, he was running away in terror as Zeigler, shirtless and with his belt undone, emerged with a shotgun and shot at him.
Zeigler, a 53-year-old retired fireman, was charged with attempted murder and use of a firearm in a felony. He claims he believed Walker was trying to break into his house, though he says he didn’t mean to fire his weapon. Instead, Zeigler has said the shotgun slipped, causing him to accidentally shoot at the unarmed teen, who was not hit.
But the video from a surveillance camera near Zeigler’s porch likely will raise doubts about his version of events for the trial’s jurors.
Walker can be seen walking toward Zeigler’s door and apparently knocking. Zeigler’s wife answered the door and immediately began yelling and accusing him of trying to break in, Walker testified on Monday.
Zeigler has said he then jumped out of bed, grabbed his shotgun and ran to the door.
The video shows Walker running away before Zeigler appears on the porch, takes aim and fires the shotgun at him.
“I was scared,” Walker testified. “I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren’t listening.”
Walker, who said he didn’t have his phone with him, added that he saw Zeigler “aiming at me” when he looked back, prompting him to run faster.
“I didn’t want to get hit,” the teen said.
Zeigler’s attorney, Rob Morad, has denied the incident was racially motivated, The Oakland Press reported. Zeigler and his wife had been on “high alert” for possible break-ins at the time, the lawyer said.
Morad told jurors earlier this week that Zeigler had “acted from passion instead of judgment.”
If the jury finds him guilty, Zeigler could face life in prison.