Officer who killed man seeks reinstatement

Shooting ruled justifiable; Sheriff said officer violated policy

Photo of Davinian Williams from previous arrest by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A two-day hearing was held last week in the case of a Jacksonville police officer fired after the fatal shooting of an unarmed 35-year-old man during a May 2012 traffic stop.

Jeff Edwards is seeking reinstatement to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The shooting was ruled justifiable, but Sheriff John Rutherford asked that the officer be terminated for violating department policy.

Police said Edwards shot and killed Davinian Williams (pictured below) after pulling him over for driving erratically in a known drug area around Bert and Rogero roads about 2:15 a.m. May 9, 2012.

A JSO internal investigation found that Williams did not follow commands to show his hands or grip the steering wheel, and Edwards believed "there was a clear imminent threat against his life and that Williams had retrieved a weapon from the floorboard."

Photo of Davinian Williams from previous arrest by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

The three-year veteran officer fired seven shots, hitting Williams six times.

Police later found found cocaine and crack cocaine shoved into Williams' socks, but no weapon in his car.

A JSO Response to Resistance Board review found the shooting violated the department's guidelines for the use of deadly force, that Edward should have waited for backup while taking a position behind his cruiser and that failure of a motorist to show his hands is not justification for shooting someone.

According to an Internal Affairs report obtained by Channel 4, Edwards ordered Williams to show his hands nine times over a period of one minute and 30 seconds. The report states, "Edwards had never experienced anyone continue to evade and ignore him, and his perception was that a gun battle was about to ensue."

After the internal review of the fatal shooting, Rutherford wrote that the use of deadly force was "without justification," and concluded that Edwards should be terminated.

At last week's hearing, the lawyer for Edwards called a JSO sergeant, a lieutenant and an expert in the use of deadly force. All told an arbitrator Edwards' actions were reasonable in the confrontation that ended with him shooting Williams.

JSO's lawyer shared the report and recommendations by Rutherford.

A ruling on Edwards' request for reinstatement could come in April.