Suspect killed in shooting, officer injured by fleeing vehicle

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office searching for second suspect

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Francesca Amiker - Reporter , Harrison Barrus - Web news editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A suspected drug dealer was killed and a police officer hospitalized Thursday night after an undercover drug deal in St. Nicholas turned violent, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

According to police, narcotics detectives in plain clothes were conducting controlled drug buy in the St. Nicholas area between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., then paused for a short time, then resuming again between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Officers had already made several busts and had found another suspect they were trying to buy more drugs from, police said. 

UNCUT: JSO briefs reporters just after midnight

An undercover officer in an unmarked car met the suspect, who told the officer to head to a parking lot at the Mayfair Village apartment complex where he was going to buy $60 worth of crack cocaine.

The suspect went into an apartment and came back saying that the guy there had bad stuff, but that he knew a guy across the street that had something better.

Officials said that the suspect told the potential buyer he didn't know was a cop to wait in the car and he would send the other guy over.  

A short while later the man and a silver vehicle pulled up next to the officer, the suspect grabbed drugs from a second suspect in the vehicle and brought them over to the undercover car.

The detective gave a take down signal and other officers moved in to make the arrest, police said.

The suspect in the silver vehicle noticed what was happening as an officer on foot came toward him and told him to get out of the vehicle. The suspect then took off in reverse, hitting the officer so hard that he was knocked into the air, losing his service weapon and flying over the vehicle. Police later said the officer suffered serious head injuries.

The driver of the vehicle tried to keep going, slamming into several other vehicle before police performed a vehicle take down, causing the suspect to crash into a building. 

The suspect jumped out of the car an took off on foot with two police cruisers in pursuit. 

The suspect, whose name was not released Thursday night, fled down Beach Boulevard, crossing to Lamay Avenue and eventually ending up on Drexel Avenue, where he started running through yards and jumping over fences. 

According to police, the suspect then fell while he was jumping another fence, allowing an officer to catch up with him. While the suspect was getting to his feet, police said he reached toward his waistband while turning toward the officer.

Officials said the officer, fearing for his life, fired eight rounds, hitting and killing the suspect.

When asked, police said that they had not determined if the suspect was actually armed.

While in pursuit of the suspect from the silver vehicle, the original suspect who was helping police make the drug buy took off and police are still searching for that man. They have not released any details about the search or the suspect.

"There were several residents out," said JSO Director Mike Bruno. "You had police officers and all kinds of individuals. You have a speeding car across the sidewalk, through the courtyard, and, like I said, ramming the building. So there's a total disregard for the public safety and the safety of the officers."

Police have not named the officer who was hospitalized or said his condition, but said he should recover.

"We're very fortunate he didn't pay the ultimate price," Bruno said.

Police have scheduled a 1 p.m. Friday briefing to provide the names of those involved and other details of the incident.

State Attorney Angela Corey was at the scene of the shooting but did not make any comments to the media. When asked if newly sworn-in Sheriff Mike Williams was at the scene, Bruno said that he was not there but had been in contact.

The officer who shot the fleeing suspect was put on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard police procedure for officer-involved shootings.

According to News4Jax records, Thursday's shooting marks the seventh police-involved shooting this year, three of which resulted in a death.

In 2014 there were 16 police-involved shootings, six of which were fatal. 

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