Family of teen killed claims city, Jacksonville Landing negligent
16-year-old fatally shot in January near Landing entrance
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of the 16-year-old shot and killed early this year in front of the Jacksonville Landing is claiming that negligence caused or aided the boy's death, attorney Bruce Batts wrote in a letter to Mayor Lenny Curry.
The letter, dated June 27, notifies the city of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Landing Investments, LLC that they could be sued over violence in the area.
Batts, who represents the family of Khamoi Petersen, said lack of security contributed to the teenage boy's death in January, and the city and the Landing should be held responsible.
Petersen was with friends near the front door of the Landing Jan. 16 when arguments broke out and shots were fired, according to police. Petersen died and a 13-year-old was injured.
While the police investigation found Petersen drew his weapon first, Batts said, it was in response to an 18-year-old showing a weapon and Petersen fearing for his life.
Surveillance video and two witnesses told the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office that Solomon fired after Petersen pulled a gun first, according to court documents.
"Khamoi reached for his gun as any reasonable person would if a threat was imminent of if another individual was attempting to kill them with a firearm," Batts said.
Tyrik Charles Solomon, 18, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm, but was not charged with Solomon's death as surveillance video of the incident showed the shooting could have been in self-defense.
Based on shell casings recovered, more than one gun was fired, police said.
"Although both individuals had guns, the operative question is why would teenagers feel comfortable carrying guns and engaging in this type of conduct in and around Jacksonville Landing," Batts wrote in the letter to Curry. "Please consider this a formal demand for policy limits of any insurance liability coverage that pertains to the subject incident. We are in no way advocating that your potential tender of such policy limits will settle this matter."
In making his case for liability of both the city and Landing management, Batts included a reference in his letter to a 2014 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling:
As part of the duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, a property owner also has a duty to maintain the property to prevent foreseeable risks that exist on adjacent property."
News4Jax on Wednesday asked Curry about the problems at the Landing, and he pointed the finger at former Mayor Alvin Brown and police cuts made before he took office in July 2015.
"I think that when the city literally cuts the boots on the ground and the youth program, (which was) cut before I got into office, clearly there is a cause and effect," Curry said. "So what I can say to the people of Jacksonville, in my campaign, I said I would restore the police officer cuts and I would begin investing in youth programs for youth again. And I've delivered on both of those promises. But getting results is going to take time, and I'm going to continue to deliver on those promises."
City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who represents the area, said changes do need to be made, but cannot comment because of pending litigation.
"We are all frustrated by the killings and the shootings going on, not just at the Landing, but in Jacksonville in general," Gaffney saud.
Batts told News4Jax on Wednesday that the city has been given 30 days to respond to the letter, which lays the groundwork for a possible lawsuit.
News4Jax also reached out the Landing's owner, Toney Sleiman, but had not heard back as of early Wednesday evening.
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