JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 22-year-old man shot by a police officer Sunday afternoon after a head-on crash with the officer's cruiser has died, the man's father said.
As the State Attorney’s Office begins its investigation into the shooting, Reggie Gaffney, city councilman for District 7, called for an independent investigation Monday at intersection of Liberty and 9th streets, where the shooting happened.
Gaffney said he plans to speak with Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams about the independent investigation. He also said he wants the Department of Justice to look into what happened.
Vernell Bing Jr. was shot once in the side of the head after leading officers on 3.7-mile high-speed chase that ended when it appeared he intentionally struck the officer's cruiser on a Springfield street, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Bing’s parents attended Gaffney’s announcement. They said they are heartbroken.
“I know in my heart you took my boy's life,” Shirley McDaniel, Bing’s mother, said. “His intentions when he got out of the car was to kill my boy and that’s what he did.”
McDaniel said she talked with her son about an hour before police said he led officers on the high-speed chase.
“They killed my boy. And that's all (there is) to it. They killed my boy,” McDaniel said.
She said she wants to know what really happened.
“They are going to say anything to make a story. That's why I need my story. They've got a story to tell. I have one too and mine is the opposite of theirs,” McDaniel said.
Vernell Bing Sr., the man's father, said he believes the officer could have made a different choice.
“He could have been apprehended another way than shot at like that, with the patrol that they had around. It could have been better than the way they dealt with it,” Bing Sr. said.
The State Attorney’s Office will do a criminal investigation to determine if the shooting was justifiable. After that, JSO will begin its internal investigation. The Response to the Resistance Board will determine in the shooting followed department guidelines for the use of force.
Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said the Sheriff's Office is unable to say much about the incident right now.
"Police officers can't talk because it's under investigation. And usually when you have one side talking, when the public hears information coming from one side, you tend to side with those people because it's the only information you're getting. And the fact that's it's quiet gives the appearance they're trying to hide something but really that's standard procedure," Smith said.
Crowds march for change
Crowds also marched in the area of Liberty and 9th streets in memory of Bing Jr. and to rally to end what they said is continued police brutality against the black community.
"People die every day. We've been going through this for years. It's in our history and we still don't have answers. We keep getting the same old thing. We just keep getting brushed to the side," Hurtis Wyche Jr. said at the rally.
Diane Bing, the man's cousin, said she doesn't want to see what happened to her cousin, happen to anyone else.
"I'm disgusted. I'm totally upset. They took my cousin's life and they could have handled that better," Diane Bing said.
She described her cousin as loving and family-oriented. She also said he was expecting a baby in just two weeks.
"We're all torn up about this. Our family is really upset about this because of who and how he died," Diane Bing said.
She called what happened to her cousin "police brutality," and said she hopes rallies like Monday's will bring about change.
"I'm hoping for justice for my cousin, for my family. Hopefully, nobody else gets killed by JSO," Diane Bing said.
Michael Simmons said he hopes the rally will push the Sheriff's Office to be more transparent. He also said the need for police body camera within the agency is greater than ever.
"The reason is very plain and simple. So that nobody will say that an officer's life was in immediate danger at the time that they pulled their weapon and fired it," Simmons said.
Community groups call for police transparency
Both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference issued statements calling for better police accountability and transparency.
"The questionable means by which black men are shot down in the streets will not be tolerated," wrote Ben Frazier, spokesman for the SCLC Southern Chapter. "We believe that this police shooting was a classic case where police body cameras could have have provided much needed and valuable footage."
According to the SCLC, over the past 12 years, 135 people have been shot by the JSO and 65 percent of those victims were black, even though only 34 percent of Jacksonville's population is black.
While all those incidents were investigated, every one of those shootings was considered justified.
"We have great concern as it relates to the potential excessive use of force involving Jacksonville officers," the NAACP wrote. "We are looking for a complete and thorough investigation."