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State Attorney's Office drops charges against 3 detectives

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – State Attorney Melissa Nelson dropped evidence tampering and conspiracy charges this week against three veteran Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives who were arrested in connection with a deadly February shooting. 

Under a deal with prosecutors, Detective Brian Turner agreed to resign from the Sheriff's Office and permanently surrender his state-issued law enforcement certificate, according to court records.

Detectives Kyle Kvies and Lance Griffis cooperated with investigators and completed community service hours to avoid prosecution.

The three detectives were accused of removing beer cans from their undercover vehicle after the Feb. 6 shooting during an undercover drug deal.

According to court documents obtained by News4Jax Friday, a man, who was identified as Jerome Allen, approached the unmarked car with a replica gun and tried to rob Turner, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. 

Turner then fatally shot the man with his police-issued weapon, court documents show. 

Kvies was recording the undercover drug buy with his agency-issued iPhone, which he turned over to investigators. On the recording, there was a discussion about the need to remove beer cans and beer props from the undercover vehicle, court documents show.

"Hey, get all the beer," Kvies said, according to court documents, to which Turner responded, "Yeah, get rid of that ****."

Investigators recovered two 16-ounce, unopened cans of Natural Light and one empty 16-ounce bottle of Miller Lite, court documents show.

Ten days after the shooting, Sheriff Mike Williams announced the three detectives had been arrested. He said the vehicle had become a crime scene and removal of anything that could be considered evidence is what led to their arrests for evidence tampering. 

In court documents, prosecutors cited several reasons for their decision to drop the cases, one of which is that the detectives were allowed by JSO to use beer props while working undercover. 

"The likely and only demonstrable motive for the removal of these beer props from the undercover vehicle was to avoid any potential discipline issues from their supervisors about misusing props, and not to interfere with the OIS (officer-involved shooting) investigation," prosecutors said in the documents.

Prosecutors also noted lack of criminal record and each detective's cooperation during the investigation, according to court papers.

About the Authors:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.