JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A police officer sustained minor injuries Wednesday afternoon after being shot in the arm during an altercation with a man suspected in a string of burglaries, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Officer J.C. Prentice was treated at the scene outside a Beach Boulevard pawn shop. He did not require hospitalization.
The shooting happened about 2:30 p.m. outside Big Cash Pawn in a strip mall at the intersection of Beach and Forest Boulevard.
JSO Chief of Investigations Annie Smith said officers were responding to a tip that suspects sought in a string of burglaries and pawning stolen items were inside the pawn shop.
Smith said the officers went in to arrest the suspects, and they saw one of them had a gun in his waistband. Smith said the suspect reached for his gun and a struggle ensued.
Smith said the suspect's gun fired, but it was unclear if the officer was struck directly or by ricochet.
No officers fired any shots, Smith said.
Channel 4's Crime and Safety Analyst, Ken Jefferson said, based on what is known about the crime, it seemed that officer Prentice handled everything by the book Wednesday afternoon. Jefferson said officers only have a split second to assess the danger and react.
Jefferson said this scuffle could have easily ended in death.
"The standard procedure is to protect themselves and anybody else from any kind of imminent danger, such as someone pulling out a weapon and in this case, the officer would have been justified had he pulled out his weapon when he saw the suspect going for a weapon, and use deadly force," said Jefferson. "He would have been justified because the suspect was not complying with the officer's demands."
In the split second that Officer Prentice had to assess the danger and react, Prentice did not reach for his weapon. This was something that surprised Jefferson.
"I am surprised that he did not pull the service weapon out and use deadly force, but there could have been some compelling reasons as to why," said Jefferson. "One compelling reason is that his backstop could have been other people, had he shot that person, the bullet is not going to stop the suspect or travel through him and hit whatever is behind him," said Jefferson. "That could be a reason, he didn't want to endanger anybody else. Another reason, he could have been close enough to the suspect where he felt he could disarm the individual without incident."
Jefferson said Wednesday's incident was another example in Jacksonville of just how dangerous police work can be.
"There is never ever, ever a routine call," said Jefferson. "But whenever these calls happen, it awakes or shakes all of the other officers that this is a very dangerous job."
The man, his wife and adult daughter were taken into custody.
The Sheriff's Office says the names of the three suspects and details of the charges against them will be released Thursday morning.
The officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard procedure in a police-involved shooting.
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