JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a man who was killed last month when he was hit by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputy who was responding to a robbery is demanding answers.
Blane Land, 62, died on May 10 when he ran in front of an officer's cruiser on University Boulevard West between Phillips Highway and Cagle Road just before 11 p.m.
The Sheriff's Office said Officer T.L. James was responding as a backup to a robbery with injuries when he fatally struck Land. James was driving behind a Jacksonville Fire Rescue truck.
Police said Land ran from a Burger King in front of the firetruck. He made it to the center travel lane and once the firetruck passed, he darted back toward Burger King, right into the path of the police car, investigators said.
Officials said they didn’t initially rule out suicide, but Land’s family said there’s no way he would have killed himself. The family is asking for witnesses to come forward, so they can learn what happened.
“My brother didn't dart, ever. He didn't run, ever. He would never have taken his own life and in particular in a way that would involve an innocent,” Land’s sister, Stacy Land, said.
Land’s family members said they are devastated by his death.
“I don't know how to describe it. I've never experienced anything like this,” Land’s mother, Barbara Land, said. “(He was) a very caring person. He was on top of the world when he left to come over here.”
Land’s father, H.C. Land, said that just a few weeks ago, Land was teaching his friend’s son about computers.
“Kind. Gentle. (Would) help anybody. That's the kind of person he was,” H.C. Land said.
Land’s family members told News4Jax that they are upset they haven’t received any answers from investigators about what happened.
“We have nothing but questions at this point,” Stacy Land said. “Where he was going exactly, where he was hit.”
Land’s family hired area attorney John Phillips, who said anytime there is a police officer involved in a death, the process is lengthy.
“The investigative process takes too long when a police officer is involved. Period,” Phillips said. “There's never enough information when a family loses somebody. Every day matters.”
“It is terrible. It is awful, because we can’t get details. We can't find out exactly what happened,” Barbara Land said.
News4Jax contacted Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams for a response.
“The safety of citizens is the priority and they’ve launched an in-depth investigation to find out exactly what happened,” Williams said.
Land’s family said they wish that JSO officers wore body cameras, or had dash cameras, that could have helped put the pieces together.