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Officers accused of racial profiling 'acted professionally,' sheriff says

Williams backs officers in body camera confrontation with council members

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told News4Jax on Wednesday that he supports the actions of his officers who were captured on body camera video last week in a confrontation with two City Council members after one of them was pulled over in a traffic stop.

The officers involved in the confrontation said Councilman Reggie Gaffney was pulled over after a random check of his license plate showed that his tag had been reported stolen. During the traffic stop, Councilwoman Katrina Brown drove up and yelled at the officers, accusing them of racial profiling.

“They pulled right in front of my car, right at the Checkers to check his tag,” Brown can be heard saying in the video. “I seen it. It was racial profiling. I seen it myself.”

Gaffney told the officers that he didn't remember filing the stolen tag report, and later explained that the tag had been returned but he never updated the report. The I-TEAM obtained the report, which was filed more than a year ago after Gaffney said he erroneously received several red-light camera citations in the mail. 

DOCUMENT: Reggie Gaffney's driving record

Gaffney apologized during Tuesday night's City Council meeting for his part in the heated exchange with officers, but Brown stood her ground, saying she did nothing wrong.

That exchange was captured on a body camera being worn by one of the officers. A blurry copy of that video, taken off a monitor, was give to the I-TEAM by a source. The video has not been officially released by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

UNCUT: Body camera video of traffic stop |
RELATED: Councilwoman's racial profiling claims 'disgusting,' FOP president say

Sheriff Williams told the I-TEAM on Wednesday that he stands behind the officers.

“I had an opportunity to review the video, and I do want to say the officers did a good job,” Williams said. “In a very challenging situation, they acted professionally. They responded appropriately.”

One of the officers did engage in a heated argument with Brown, saying he'd had run-ins with her before. And in another portion of the video, the officers can be heard commenting to each other out of earshot of the council members, with one making an obscene remark.

Officer 1: We asked him like several times just to tell us if he lost it or what happened.
Officer 2: These city council people. They can **** my (inaudible). They’re horrible. Horrible. I’ve never had a good experience with any of them.

Williams addressed the comments between the officers, saying he didn't consider them a major issue.

“So their interaction with the council people was professional, as it should have been,” Williams said. “And look, we can address co-workers talking to each other, but that is not a significant issue in this case.”

Williams said he is investigating the confrontation, Gaffney's claims about his stolen tag and how the video ended up being given to the I-TEAM.

Neither Gaffney nor Brown returned calls Wednesday seeking further comment.


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.