Family questions officer killing relative

Relatives hold vigil, say police claims against 33-year-old don't add up

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo ofLeonardo Little
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo ofLeonardo Little

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a Jacksonville man who was shot and killed by a police officer last month held a small candlelight vigil Friday night at the spot where he died.

Leonardo Little, 33, was pulled over Nov. 24 on the Westside on 103rd Street, just east of Interstate 295.

Officer Cecil Grant said Little attacked him, and that's why he shot and killed him.

Police said Little was putting the officer's life in danger. They said Little (pictured below) grabbed Grant's Taser and was fighting back.

"I don't… I don't think that's what happened. I really don't. To be honest, I don't," said Taquarius Davis, Little's girlfriend who was riding with him when Grant pulled him over. "It doesn't really make any sense because that's just not the type of person that Leo was. I mean, I'm still shocked, and that was over a week ago. I just can't believe it."

Davis was emotional Friday night at the vigil.

"This is my first time coming back up here since it happened," Davis said. "It's been tough. I'm still, kind of, still in shock."

Little's family said Grant's story just does not add up, even though they've shown no hard evidence to the contrary. They're asking for answers about what happened and why and a fair process in the investigation. 

Leonardo Little
Leonardo Little

"It is going to be hard," said Shajuane Little, Leonardo Little's older sister.

His family spent their first Thanksgiving without him, and they're not looking forward to Christmas.

"He leaves a daughter behind, he leaves a mom, dad, me and my sister," Shajuane Little said.

"He is my only son, and he was my baby," said Abagail Little, Leonardo Little's mother.

The family said they're having a hard time coming to grips with Little's death and how detectives said he got into a scuffle with Grant.

"When the officer got back to the subject, the fight continued," JSO Director Tom Hackney said the day after the fatal shooting. "The wrestling went on there. (The) officer tried a second time to deploy (the) Taser, (but it) did not deploy as (the) officer wished."

Police are still investigating what happened. Little's family said it wasn't like him to fight. They had just spoken to him before the shooting, and they said the allegations are out of character.

"He was happy talking," said Shonquette Little, Leonardo Little's younger sister. "I asked him how his day at work was, and he said, 'Oh, it was good.'"

"No, I don't believe that," Shajuane Little said of the allegations. "And if they say that is what Leo did, I want to see the video. Not only the video, if you have marks, I want to see it all, because I don't believe it."

"I absolutely do feel that there is a lot of unanswered questions as to how the officer handled the case," Abagail Little said.

"There was a young lady sitting in the car that has a very different story than the officer's," Little family attorney John Phillips said.

Phillips is also investigating. He said he is talking with witnesses and has ordered a private autopsy.

"There is scientific evidence to say that this fight didn't happen the way that it's been explained," Phillips said.

"I would not think in 1 million years this would ever happen to my family or anybody close to me," Shajuane Little said. "He always told me he is going to be here for me, and now he is gone."

A JSO spokesman said he can't comment further about the case because it is still under investigation. Grant was briefly put on administrative leave after the shooting, but is now back on patrol.

Little was previously arrested several times by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for non-violent offenses. He was once charged with resisting an officer without violence.

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