JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A lawsuit has been filed by the estate of a man killed in 2017 during an undercover drug operation involving three veteran Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives.
In February 2017, Jerome Allen, 22, was shot and killed by JSO on West Fifth Street. According to court documents, Allen pointed a replica gun through the window at one of three detectives in an unmarked car. Detective Brian Turner then fatally shot the man with his police-issued weapon, court documents show.
Detective Kyle 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 Turner, Kvies and Detective Lance Griffis had been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence and conspiracy. He said the vehicle had become a crime scene and removal of anything that could be considered evidence is what led to their arrests.
The state attorney's office eventually dropped the charges, determining they ditched the beer cans to avoid being disciplined for drinking while on duty, not to interfere with the investigation into the shooting of Allen. Turner resigned. Kvies and Griffis were cooperative, performed community service and avoided prosecution.
Now, Allen’s estate has sued all three men, JSO, Williams and the city.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, claims the detectives’ “drinking on duty resulted in the excessive deadly force use.”
"That is certainly part of the concern. That is contended in our lawsuit," Rhonda Peoples-Waters, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Allen's estate, told News4Jax on Friday.
The lawsuit also accuses JSO and Williams of failing to adequately train and supervise the detectives in the use of deadly force.
The lawsuit notes, “There exists a documented history within the JSO of unjustified shootings carried out by JSO officers … without consequences for the officers involved.”
The negligence suit seeks in excess of $75,000 in actual and punitive damages.
"We're very concerned about the actions of the officers, which resulted in the death of Jerome Allen," Peoples-Waters said.
News4Jax contacted JSO for comment but was referred to its general council, who could not be reached after normal business hours.