JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A family is asking for answers after they said a Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer fired shots at their loved one during a Southside traffic stop while his 6-year-old daughter was in the car.
According to a JSO spokesman, Officer J.C. Garcia observed a green Ford drive through a parking lot to avoid a traffic signal about 9 p.m. Monday. Garcia followed the vehicle and noticed other traffic violations, including an expired license plate.
Police said the car, driven by 29-year-old Brian Dennison, turned into an ATM and then abruptly pulled away when the patrol car pulled behind him.
Garcia followed the vehicle to the Plantation Apartments on Old Kings Road South and turned on his lights to make a traffic stop at the complex entrance.
The Sheriff's Office said Garcia had a hard time pulling over Dennison until he finally stopped in a parking spot at the complex.
A JSO spokesman said Garcia followed Dennison into the apartment complex after he cut through a parking lot to avoid a traffic light and was driving suspiciously. Dennison finally stopped in a parking spot at the complex, police said. They said Garcia pulled behind him and got out of the patrol car, and at the same time, Dennison got out of his car.
When Dennison got out of his car, Garcia thought he had a weapon, and that's when he fired one shot, according to JSO. A JSO spokesman said Dennison did not have a weapon, but was taken into custody for unrelated charges.
Dennison's family said their loved one had his 6-year-old daughter in the car and that he was trying to get her home to take care of a medical condition.
"He had a daughter in the car, come on," said Dennison's cousin, Dekierian Cook. "He ain't fixing to risk his life. He's trying to save his daughter's life right now. And you going to shoot at her? You had the audacity to shoot at the car when he had his hands out the window saying, 'Don't shoot, please don't shoot. I got my daughter in the car.'"
Cook said a JSO officer didn't have the right to fire at his cousin. He said Dennison was trying to get home to his Southside apartment to take care of his daughter with asthma. She was in the car at the time the shot was fired, and Cook said that's unacceptable.
"He had his 6-year-old daughter in the car, in the passenger's seat," Cook said. "Come on out. They need to get it together. Because if my cousin were to get hit, I don't know what would've happened. Everyone would be sad."
Police said Dennison was arrested on a charge of knowingly driving while license suspended, canceled or revoked, as well as for some outstanding warrants, but nothing related to the shooting.
Garcia has been a Jacksonville police officer for five years and will go before a panel once the investigation is complete to determine if he violated any department policies in firing his weapon.