JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An undercover Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective's courtroom taunt last week of the man convicted of shooting him has drawn calls for a national boycott of the city.
The detective, who we are not naming, was shot by Kevin Rojas during a traffic stop nearly two years ago. Last Wednesday, during Rojas' sentencing hearing, the officer placed a bottle of lubricant in front of Rojas and made a provocative statement:
So I got a little gift for you. You are going to need a lot of this where you are going, boy."
That statement was widely reported around the country and went viral on social media. Even though the officer was the victim, his statement angered many, some who fired off emails to the city.
"I and several other national anti-sexual assault advocacy groups plan on beginning a national boycott of Jacksonville -- the city that advocates rape of prisoners and lets officers to be held at a different standard," one man wrote.
On Wednesday, Sheriff Mike Williams issued a statement on the issue.
We have discussed proper courtroom demeanor and professionalism with the officer. I’m grateful for the outcome of the incident and that I am able to have a conversation with my officer. He continues to deal with the incident that could have taken both his life and that of his young son, as he will for the rest of his life. I believe justice was served with the jury’s verdict. God knows how many others could have been harmed or killed had the suspect not been apprehended."
Earlier in the week, Mayor Lenny Curry responded to one letter that condemned the officer's comment, saying the actions of the officer are not reflective of the city.
"All citizens are treated with respect and dignity. JSO personnel are no exception," Curry said. "The actions described by this officer are not reflective of the conduct Sheriff Williams promotes."
State Attorney Melissa Nelson was in the courtroom during the officer's statement, but her office will not comment. The Public Defender’s Office, which represented Rojas, said it’s an issue for the sheriff to deal with.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, who is a former JSO officer, said it's hard to judge the detective if you've never been in his position.
"It may not have been the best thing to do, but it’s hard for me to judge because I have never been shot," Smith said. "I really don’t understand (the) full emotion that someone would feel being faced with someone who tried to kill them."
The man who wrote the email that prompted Curry's response is from Boston and did not want to be identified, but told News4Jax that what the officer said promoted rape in prison. He added that not only was what the officer said inappropriate, but the response from the mayor and the sheriff are also wrong. The letter-writer said that officers need to be held to a higher standard, even in this case where the officer was shot.