JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville police officer relived on Wednesday a terrifying encounter with an armed teenager, when he recounted step by step what happened the night he was shot in the face.
Last January, officer Jared Reston was chasing a shoplifting suspect outside Regency Square Mall when a gun battle erupted. The suspect, 18-year-old Joel Abner, shot Reston six times before the officer fired back, killing the suspect.
On Wednesday, Reston walked his commanding officers through his experience.
Reston said he gave Abner verbal commands, and then tried to use his Taser gun on the suspect. When the device malfunctioned, the officer was able to get close enough to try to physically subdue Abner, but he said that's when things turned extremely dangerous.
"I felt a large hit. As I rolled down the thing I thought I was punched," Reston said.
The officer told the Response to Resistance Board that as he fell into a ditch he thought he was punched because felt his teeth in the back of his mouth. He said his leg was also hurting, as was his right buttocks.
Reston said it wasn't until he saw Abner coming toward him that he realized the suspect was shooting at him.
"I look up and I can see the suspect continuing to shoot at me and walking,'" Reston said.
After that, the officer said he began shooting for his life and that he was trying to get to his feet when Abner came toward him again.
"He started coming back at me. I started shooting him, one-handed. I could tell I was hitting him because he started to wince," Reston said.
Abner eventually fell on top of Reston. That's when the officer was able to gain control of the situation.
"As he fell, I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him as close to me as I could. He fell to the ground and rolled to his side, and I fired three extremely close proximity shots to his head," Reston said.
The response to resistance board unanimously decided Reston, who was shot in the face during the incident, had operated within the sheriff's office guidelines when he shot and killed Abner.
"I'm certainly not happy that you got put in that position that you were put into. I'm not happy that you had to take the life of someone else and you have to live with that the rest of your life ? but I am happy that you survived this incident. I'm really happy that you have the warrior mentality it takes to take a shot in the face and several more throughout the body and still do what you had to do," said one officer on the response to resistance board.
The board decided Reston operated within department guidelines and that neither disciplinary action nor additional training was needed for the officer.