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JSO finds 6 use-of-force cases within guidelines

Family of man killed by police skeptical of review board findings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nine Jacksonville police officers who fired shots in six separate cases over the past several months did so within departmental guidelines, according to the the Sheriff's Office's Response to Resistance Board. 

The most controversial case was the May 12 fatal shooting of D'Angelo Stallworth during an eviction inspection at the Planter's Walk Apartments on the Westside. He was on the patio of an adjoining apartment unit.

Two officers with the civil process unit -- Steve Srozinski and Troy Blum -- asked him what he was doing and police said he pulled a gun from a blanket and pushed it into the chest of Srozinski before running down a stairwell. When he turned back toward the officers, they fired six shots between them, killing Stallworth, police said. The handgun fell from his grasp during the altercation, so he was unarmed at the moment of the shooting.

The report found that two of the rounds hit him in the back, as he turned to run. 

The family said it is contemplating a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office. The family's lawyer called the results of the JSO board review “laughable.”

“We've been waiting for this information. We've asked for the autopsy. We've asked for photographs, asked for months and months,” attorney Eric Block said. “Officer Blum said he heard gunshots and thought they were coming from Stallworth. Stallworth was on the ground.  How could they believe they were coming from Stallworth? I mean, this is laughable.”

A big problem Block has with the report is that JSO’s board is investigating its own officers.

“The police investigating the police in another white officer's killing of an unarmed black kid found nothing wrong with that,” Block said. “To my knowledge, Jacksonville has never found any responsibility on the part of JSO white officers shooting an unarmed black kid.”

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said he’s talked to many homicide investigators for years and that no one he’s talked to has ever felt pressured to skew an investigation.

“Even if the investigation was done by an outside agency and they found the officer not guilty, I’m not sure the public would accept that,” Smith said. “They would say they’re all law enforcement, they’re all protecting each other.  So I don’t think it would matter which agency did the investigation.”

The state attorney's office ruled the shooting by Srozinski and Blum was justifiable.

The five other cases that News4Jax obtained results from Monday were also found justifiable.

Nov. 24, 2014: Officer Cecil Grant shot and killed 33-year-old Leonardo Little, who was driving with an expired tag. The stop escalated into a physical confrontation on 103rd Street. Grant used his Taser gun on Little first, then shot him after Little gained control of the Taser. Grant was ordered to undergo further training.

Nov. 24, 2014: Officer J.C. Garcia fired a shot at Brian Dennison in a parking lot of an apartment complex at 7061 Old Kings Road South, but missed. Garcia said he had seen Dennison driving erratically. Dennison said he was rushing home because his 6-year-old daughter was having an asthma attack. Garcia turned the gun just as he pulled the trigger and the slug missed Dennison. Garcia was ordered to undergo further training.

Dec. 10, 2014: Two officers were struck by a car as it sped off from a traffic stop on Peach Drive. Officer C.A. Soucek fired four shots into the car, but no one was hit. The car was stopped and the driver was arrested at the intersection of Monument and McCormick roads.

Dec. 24, 2014: Officer Steve Colman shot burglary suspect Michael Hollis in the leg, after he came out of the Gate Liquors Lounge at 9900 Lem Turner Road with two assault rifles. Officers said when Hollis refused to drop the weapons, Colman fired eight times, hitting Hollis once in the leg.

Dec. 27, 2014: A SWAT standoff at Plaza Apartments at 3700 University Club Drive ended with three unnamed (undercover) SWAT officers fatally shooting 28-year-old murder suspect David Scott. Scott had told officers he wasn't going down without a fight, and suddenly came out and pointed a gun at them. Scott was shot 21 times. The gun turned out to be fake.

The Response to Resistance Board hearings were closed to the media years ago by the 1st District Court of Appeals, but the JSO posts the results on its website.


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