AFRICANGLOBE – Jeffrey Zeigler, a white man from Michigan who initially faced up to life imprisonment for shooting at a Black teen who was just asking for help to find his way to school, has recently been sentenced to four to ten years in jail. On the other hand, the victim, Brennan Walker, has been in therapy indefinitely due to the trauma he has been suffering since the shooting incident.
Last month, a jury convicted Zeigler of assault with intent to do bodily harm and a felony firearm count and sentenced him to four to ten years in prison. On Tuesday, a judge at the Oakland County court sentenced him to a minimum of two years for each charge, instead of a life sentence that is generally carried by the assault charge. It means that after four years, he will be eligible for parole.
Meanwhile, Walker has been undergoing therapy and would need it indefinitely, according to his mother, Lisa Wright. She said in a media interview, “This will affect my son forever.”
“He almost took the life of another human being,” assistant prosecutor Kelly Collins said. “That will forever stay with Brennan — forever. His perception of strangers, his perception of other people, his perception of the world.
Zeigler, who is 53 years old, apologized to Wright before he was sentenced and said he has “full remorse and regret.” He added, “I wish I could change something, but we can’t go back in time.”
However, Wright didn’t buy it and believed he was only sorry because of the media attention. She also believes race was the key factor and she told a judge, “I try to keep race out of it, but we all know that’s what it was.”
Walker, who was then 14 years old, was trying to ask for help because he missed the bus to school. He knocked on Zeigler’s door to ask for directions but a woman, Ziegler’s wife, screamed. Zeigler then came bursting out of the house, running after Walker, and firing a shotgun at him, as seen on his own house’s surveillance video.
Ziegler’s wife reported to the police and said, “A Black male was trying to break into her house and her husband chased after him into the yard.” Moreover, Ziegler lied and claimed he tripped and that caused his gun to fire, even though his own surveillance camera showed he even paused and took an aim before firing a shot at the teen who was already fleeing.
“I was scared. I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren’t listening,” Walker testified last October. “I turned back and I saw him aiming at me… I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot.”
Ziegler’s lawyer, Robert Morad, said they will be discussing for a possible appeal. He claims his client suffers from PTSD and other injuries from his 23 years of service of being a Detroit firefighter.
In the meantime, Walker and his family don’t leave the house that much anymore. “We moved to Rochester Hills to live in a better place, a safe place,” Wright said. “But, when a safer place doesn’t want you there, I don’t know how to process that.”