Michigan Man Sentenced to Minimum 4 Years for Firing on a Lost Black Teen

Image Via the New York Times

Jeffrey Zeigler is going to prison

Zeigler, 53, a retired firefighter says he awoke to his wife, Dana Zeigler, screaming about a black man trying to break into their home.

Brennan Walker, the lost teen who was trying to retrace his bus route on foot to school (because millenial problems) knocked on the Zeigler’s door to ask directions.

Jeffrey’s response to to a teen who had knocked on the door and his wife’s alleged hysterics was to grab an over/under shotgun, run onto the front porch, and fire at the fleeing teen in what he described as “a warning shot”

Let’s break down the nearly unfathomably stupid poor choices here.

  1. What possible threat was observed from the young Brennan Walker? He has the body language of a boy scout selling popcorn, not someone preparing to rush a door. There are plenty of ways to address someone from the otherside of a door that keeps you at advantage.
  2. Why did Zeigler open the door to an alleged intruder?
  3. Walker is beyond the driveway in full flight by the time Zeigler is on his porch and shouldering the shotgun. Any remotely feasible self defense argument is going to rely on perceived aggression at the moment you fire. Good luck trying to convince anyone that a teen trying to break the sound barrier retreating meets any standard for discharging that shotgun.
  4. Zeigler alleged he meant to fire a “warning shot”. In Michigan there is no such legal thing and you need to abandon this concept.
  5. When you realize you screwed up. Don’t change your story when the video is saying otherwise. You just look like more of bag of ass.

“Everything happened so fast, it was absolute madness, craziness,” Zeigler said.

Zeigler vehemently denies that he took aim at Brennan, claiming that he planned to shoot the gun up into the air, but he stumbled on wet pavement outside and his finger slipped from the trigger guard onto the trigger, and then the shotgun fired before he had intended it to.

The video proves this is absolutely false. Zeigler took aim, it looks like he tries to fire with the safety on, switches the safety off and fires. Furthermore nothing was happening fast, Walker is sitting on the porch waiting to talk to the residents of the home like millions of harmless interactions.

Caution is always warranted, nothing more.

Analysis

The video is damning. Zeigler lost control, he panicked. I cannot speak to any prejudice towards Brennan Walker but at best Jeffrey Zeigler lost control when his wife started screaming her head off.

Zeigler didn’t observe. He didn’t analyze anything in front of him.

Zeigler said his reaction was instinctive, after serving nearly 25 years as a Detroit firefighter. “We run toward danger, to mitigate it. That was my instinct, absolutely,” he said.

This is a poor excuse. I’d place a wager on your training, it never taught you to run in blind and stupid Mr. Zeigler. You would be excoriated for running into a structure fire that was about to come down on you or opening a door that was going to cause a flare up and worsen a fire.

“Run towards danger” is a catchy line for newspaper heroics just like Marines and soldiers “run towards gunfire”. It’s a shit legal defense.

He also testified that since the shooting, he’s regretted it every day.

“I wish I was awake and was the person to answer the door…I would’ve given him a ride to school, because I know it’s a long walk,” he said.

Aftermath

Jeffrey Zeigler is now paying the price for piss poor preparation. He didn’t know how to address his panicking wife. Additionally not knowing how to address a threat at his door. All of the bad decisions that could have been made were pretty much made.

This is going to cost him 4-10 years of his life. I personally believe his wife is culpable in this tragedy for freaking out about someone opening their outer screen door in the daytime, but Jeffrey fired the shotgun.

Don’t Be That Guy

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.