Charges dropped against Jacksonville officer in handcuffed teen's attack
Timothy James resigns from JSO as part of plea deal
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The police officer charged in the beating of a handcuffed teen will not face jail time in exchange for his resignation from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Timothy James' agreement was part of an agreement reached with the State Attorney's Office. In addition to resigning, James will not pursue any jobs as a police officer for a period of three years.
Also, James must perform 50 hours of community service, complete an anger management program and pay $170. James cannot commit any new local, state or federal offenses for three years.
In a resignation letter, James wrote in part:
It is with a heavy heart and the deepest regret that I submit this letter of resignation. Coming to this decision was difficult, but I feel it is the best decision for me and my family. ... It was an honor and privilege to work for this agency and I will deeply miss being a part of it.
The State Attorney's Office wrote his case posed a significant trial risk. In its assessment, it said there was a good chance a jury would not have convicted James of battery.
James, who has a history of internal complaints, was charged with battery after fellow officers saw him hitting 17-year-old Elias Campos, who was handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car.
News4Jax reached out to Campos on Tuesday for comment. He declined an interview until speaking with his attorney.
Campos' attorney John Phillips released a lengthy response, calling it a "dark day for justice." It reads in part:
At 3:09 (p.m.) today (Tuesday), we received the “disposition statement” related to the case against Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer Tim James. We represent Elias Campos, the 17-year-old victim of Officer James' repeated battery. He broke Elias’ teeth in an unlawful arrest. The State Attorney’s Office has chosen to dismiss these charges even though a fellow officer was willing to testify against Tim James. The terms of that dismissal are offensive and unjust.
Officer James has a history of violence against the citizens of Jacksonville while hiding behind a badge. He also hit and killed our client, Blaine Land, while operating his police cruiser at a high rate of speed. He has bragged on his own Facebook page about ... “whooping” people he encounters. Yet, he continued to be a paid member of JSO and now is simply asked to resign and forgo being an officer in the Jacksonville area. It is unacceptable and will only empower bad officers. He will move away and likely still be a law enforcement officer while sending a message to other officers that they can get away with crimes in Jacksonville.
Three other points: We need police accountability. Jacksonville consistently investigates its own officers despite having a conflict of interest to protect its own department from liability. That needs to stop. We also need body cameras immediately. The delays need to end. Finally, for our State Attorney’s Office to publicly say it is “afraid” of trying tough cases sends a message that it is weak on crime and it is empowers police officers who push the boundaries to continue to do so.
It is a dark day for justice in Jacksonville.
Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona released a statement reading: "The criminal justice system has worked as intended and we wish Tim James well in the future."
James was also to the officer who could be seen on video hitting 21-year-old Daniel Nyman at UF Health Jacksonville on April 26. Nyman's mother said he was later released from jail after the charge of battery on a law enforcement officer was dropped.
According to documents, James had been investigated by the Sheriff's Office at least 11 times over the course of three years.
According to James' personnel history with JSO, which began in January 2014, he received four written reprimands for complaints lodged against him by fellow officers. He was suspended twice in those cases. James was also at fault in two traffic crashes in his patrol car.
The crashes do not include a May incident in which James hit and killed a pedestrian on University Boulevard. JSO said James was responding to a robbery when he fatally struck a 62-year-old man who was crossing the street.
In October 2015, a complaint filed by a JSO assistant chief accused James of failing to adequately control a prisoner. The report said that once the suspect was inside the jail’s sally port, he managed to slide his pants down to his knees, and then stepped out of them, leaving him naked.
James received a level one written reprimand in May 2016 for a violation of the agency’s social media policy and unbecoming conduct. According to the investigative report, James acknowledged writing the posts, but did not believe they cast a negative light on himself or the agency.
In April 2016, James had a complaint of unnecessary force while working off-duty at a Pearl Jam concert downtown. According to the report, James used a straight arm technique to bring a man to the ground after he resisted arrest.
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