Family demands answers for victim in police-involved shooting
Press conference held with families attorney
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Relatives of the man shot and killed during a confrontation at a Westside apartment complex on Tuesday are raising questions about what happened.
"The family is very upset. They want answers and they want them now, but they also want calm," said attorney Eric Block, who is representing the family of 28-year-old D'Angelo Stallworth. "They want everybody to behave themselves. They want everybody to let the truth come out."
During a new conference at midday Wednesday, Block said that he and the family want an independent investigation.
"Damn right, it's shoddy police work," Block said.
Stallworth's family said was a father of three and a supervisor at UPS. Block said Stallworth was visiting his children and girlfriend when he was shot.
While at Block's office for the news conference,, the mother of Stallworth's children collapsed and fire rescue had to be called in to assist her.
The two officers involved -- 25-year Jacksonville Sheriff's Office veteran Steve Srozinski and 24-year JSO veteran Troy Blum -- are on administrative leave while JSO investigates the shooting, which happened just after 10 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment complex on the corner of Blanding Boulevard and Du-Clay Road.
JSO Director Tom Hackney said Srozinski and Blum, who are part of JSO's civil process unit, were at the Planters Walk apartments to make sure that an eviction notice posted earlier had been carried out. He said they went into the apartment in question with two maintenance workers and found it empty and clean but one of the officers noticed a man outside on a shared balcony.
On each end of the shared balcony are laundry rooms, and the laundry room for the neighboring apartment was open with a comforter on the floor outside the laundry room, Hackney said.
One of the officers went out to question the man, Hackney said, and the man reached down, threw back the comforter, picked up a handgun and then drove it into the chest of the officer but didn't fire. The officer yelled that there was a gun, and the second officer came out to help, Hackney said.
The officers struggled with the man over the gun. He was able to break free and run down the stairs, but when he got toward the bottom of the steps, he turned back toward the officers, Hackney said.
According to Hackney, the officers did not know the gun had been dropped and were in fear for their safety and the safety of the maintenance workers.
"Both officers, fearing that the firearm was going to be used against them, fired their guns," Hackney said.
One officer fired twice and the other fired four times, Hackney said. It's unclear which officer's shot hit the man or how many times he was shot. He ran a few feet, collapsed and died, Hackney said.
After investigating, detectives believe the man dropped the gun at the top of the stairs as he ran away, so it appears he was unarmed when he was shot.
There's a lot of tension right now between the man's family and police. Some of his relatives said they believe he was unjustly killed.
"It's a horrible thing," Block said. "I promise you we are going to get to the truth. And we are not stupid. This is a political hot topic: young, unarmed, at least he was unarmed at the time he was shot six times. It's debatable if he was ever armed or not. We will get to the bottom of that."
But investigators said the man put their officers in danger, and they had to protect themselves. They also said after investigating the scene that they found two containers of marijuana packaged for sale under the comforter where the man had the gun.
"You can only make some assumptions that the gun and the marijuana went together," Hackney said. "This certainly highlights the dangers of what they do (when) a seemingly least worrisome call that we could have, a civil serving of papers, turns to something that's deadly."
After talking with witnesses, Block said some of the information police gave the media was either inaccurate or incomplete. But he's pleading for patience.
"We are going to get to the truth. Do you hear me? We are going to get to the truth," Block said. "And when we do, whatever it is, we will accept it, and we will go from there."
The attorney said he'll give the media more information about what happened later. But Stallworth's family is too distraught to say anything to reporters yet.
He said they will speak out soon.
The two officers involved are on paid administrative leave as JSO investigates. That's standard procedure in any police shooting.
Stallworth has one previous local arrest. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to battery on a pregnant woman and served one year of probation.
This is the sixth police-involved shooting in Jacksonville in the last five months. Two of those have been deadly.
In 2014 there were 10 police involved shootings, and six were fatal.
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