JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The autopsy of a man killed in what the State Attorney's Office ruled a justifiable police shooting revealed the man had marijuana in his system at the time.
Officer Steve Srozinski, a 25-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, and Officer Troy Blum, a 24-year JSO veteran, were justified in using deadly force against 28-year-old D'Angelo Stallworth in a May 2015 incident at the Planters Walk Apartments on Blanding Boulevard, the State Attorney's Office decided last fall.
Stallworth was shot three times: once in the back, below the right shoulder, once in the back of his right leg and once in the front of his left leg, according to the State Attorney's Office findings. Srozinski fired four times and Blum fired twice, evidence showed.
According to the Medical Examiner, the gunshot to Stallworth's upper back proved fatal. The ME's report said Stallworth's urine tested positive for caffeine and marijuana.
Stallworth's relatives -- and their attorney -- have disputed the officers' account of what happened. They said they commissioned a private autopsy that found Stallworth was shot three times, all in the back, and that the bullets entered at an upward angle.
"What they told us is that they don't have enough to charge the officers with a crime," family attorney Eric Block said last September.
He said the police review board is still investigating the shooting.
“What they told us, interestingly, is they don't have enough to charge the police officers with a crime. They did not say that the police officers did it right. They did not say that the police officers did it wrong,” Block said. "I imagine there's a lawsuit coming."
According to the SAO report, the officers, who are part of JSO's Civil Unit, went into a second-floor apartment on May 12, 2015, at Planters Walk with two of the complex's workers to make sure that an eviction notice posted earlier had been carried out.
The apartment was empty and clean, but Srozinski noticed a man, later identified as Stallworth, outside on a shared balcony. He was walking away from a utility closet and then came back carrying a child's bicycle and put it in the closet. Srozinski went to the porch area, and Stallworth picked up a blanket lying on the floor of the utility closet.
According to the report, when Stallworth lifted the blanket, a black and silver semi-automatic pistol could be seen lying on the floor of the closet. Srozinski asked Stallworth if the gun belonged to him. Stallworth said no but then quickly grabbed the gun.
Srozinski said he was startled by Stallworth's sudden action and grabbed Stallworth's arm with one hand and the gun with the other, trying to take it from Stallworth, who refused to let go of the gun. The two struggled for control of the gun and at one point, Stallworth forcefully pushed the barrel of the gun into Srozinski's chest.
When Blum heard the struggle and came out to the porch, Stallworth ripped the gun from Srozinski's grasp, broke free and ran down the staircase. The officers both believed Stallworth still had the gun as he ran down the stairs, the report said.
Srozinski repeatedly yelled at Stallworth to stop, and both officers drew their weapons. Stallworth continued running down the stairs and when he got to the bottom, he turned to run in a direction that took him in front of the officers, the report said, and he looked up at the officers.
The officers said that when Stallworth turned and looked in their direction, they feared for their lives and the lives of the two apartment workers behind them, so they fired their pistols at Stallworth, who continued running for a short distance and then fell to the ground. Srozinski called for rescue to help Stallworth, but he died at the scene.
The gun Stallworth and Srozinski had struggled over was found on the porch, but the magazine to the gun was found on the ground level at the bottom of the stairwell. DNA swabs on the gun did not provide a conclusive match, but the magazine did produce a match to Stallworth’s DNA, according to one of the two labs that examined the evidence. The second lab found no DNA on the magazine or the bullets.
The two apartment complex workers told police that they saw Stallworth grab the gun and witnessed the struggle for it with one of the officers, but they lost sight of Stallworth when he ran down the stairs and did not see the shooting. One of the workers did see that the gun had fallen onto the porch during the struggle.
Inside the blanket Stallworth lifted in the utility closet, investigators found two glass jars of marijuana. One contained 44 grams of marijuana and the other contained 82 grams of marijuana. Stallworth's DNA was found on the larger jar, but DNA results from the smaller jar were inconclusive, the report said.
Block calls the officer's version of events a fabrication, and anything but the truth.
“I've only been doing this for 26 years. I've never heard of this. The gun was placed, allegedly, at one of the police officer's chests, at which time he hollered, ‘Gun!’ The other police officer came running out of the apartment, and you think he would've shot my client and killed him. He did not,” Block said.
The SAO report concluded that the use of deadly force by Srozinski and Blum was justified because Stallworth ignored Srozinski's question about the pistol in the closet, grabbed the pistol, fought with Srozinski over the pistol, shoved the barrel of the weapon into Srozinski's chest, ran from the officers, refused their commands to stop and turned toward the officers as he was fleeing.