Officer shooting suspect appears in court

Officer Andrew Benson recovering at home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man accused of shooting a Jacksonville police officer made his first appearance in court Thursday afternoon.

Donald Goins (pictured below), 33, is charged with attempted murder of a police officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and domestic battery.

A judge ordered Goins, who has been arrested 15 times in Jacksonville, held in jail without bond.

Goins said in court that he lives with his fiance and has children, but doesn't have a job and needs the public defender to represent him.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Donald Goins
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Donald Goins

One of Goins' family members was ousted from court after yelling at a news photographer.

Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said Goins suddenly opened fire on Officer Andrew Benson shortly after 5:35 p.m. Wednesday on Cherokee Street in a Lackawanna neighborhood on the Westside after Benson pulled him over because he wasn't wearing a seat belt.

"The officer got out of his car, and as he stepped out of the door, the suspect reached out his window with a firearm and started shooting at the officer," Senterfitt said. "Officer Benson was able to return fire, move back to his car for some cover and continue to fire, and then move back out."

Benson was shot in the upper right arm, but he managed to move back into his car and returned fire. Benson was taken to a hospital and is now at home recovering.

Senterfitt said Goins also had help trying to get away from the scene.

"He was arrested in the Springfield area," Senterfitt said. "Somebody gave him a ride over there, so if people know who gave him a ride, if somebody gave him a ride, we'd be interested in talking to them."


Sheriff John Rutherford spoke Thursday, saying being an officer is a dangerous job, and officers need to be ready for anything.

"I mean, he was going to stop this fellow for no seat belt, and before he could even approach the car, the suspect reached out of the car around the V post and shot him," Rutherford said.

Residents who live on the street where the shooting happened call the area quiet and peaceful. They said there area often children playing in the yards near where the shots were fired. There's also a church just a couple of feet away from where the traffic stop started.

Amber Elswick said she heard the shooting.

"I heard five to six shots," she said. "It was just a so quick and it sounded like it was right by the window."

Elswick said luckily her kids weren't outside playing like they usually are.

"If I would not have grounded them that day and just to set him outside, something could've happened and I could have lost one of my kids or a neighbor's kid," Elswick said.

Benson has been with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for five years. He has a wife and two young children.

"Andrew is doing very well," Rutherford said. "His family was with him in the hospital yesterday."

WATCH: Uncut: First JSO news conference | Second JSO news conference

According to Goins' record from the Department of Corrections, he's a convicted drug dealer. The two drug offenses happened in 2000 and 2006. Records show he spent more than a year in jail for each case.

Goins was also sentenced in 2010 for battery and spent another year in jail. And he has previous arrests on charges of assault, resisting arrest, driving without a license and grand theft.