JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man shot and killed by a half-dozen police officers before dawn Tuesday had been arrested 16 times by six different law enforcement agencies and was currently a fugitive on a Leon County warrant charging him with sexual battery, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday.
Antonio Valentine, 32, was in a pickup truck backed into some bushes of the parking lot of Harvey's Supermarket on Arlington Road just south of Atlantic Boulevard about 4 a.m. when an officer became suspicious. When he saw the man lying in the back seat jump into the front seat, backup was called.
JSO Director Ron Lendvay said that as officers approached the man and asked him to get out of the truck, he refused and then eventually rolled up his windows and locked himself in the vehicle. He said the officers decided to act at that point and broke a window to deploy a stun gun twice, but it had no effect and the man still refused to get out of the truck.
"They were able to open the rear passenger side door of the truck which gave the officers a better view of the suspect activities in the backseat," Lendvay said. "That’s when they observed the suspect roll toward them with a gun in his hand."
JSO Director Ron Lendvay said six officers opened fire and got off 21 shots at Valentine. The autopsy found he was struck seven times. He died at the scene.
Marcella Green, Valentine's grandmother, questioned the use of deadly force.
"I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. It don’t take that many bullets to kill someone or to arrest someone," Green said. "They tased him twice. Tase him again. Why did they have to shoot?”
Lendvay said Valentine was holding a loaded 22-caliber handgun and a search of the four-door pickup truck, which was a rental, turned up a second gun, ammunition for both and some marijuana. The gun was purchased locally by someone else and police will investigate how he obtained it.
Valentine had arrests on drug and gun charges, domestic battery, retail theft and driving violations in Jacksonville, Jacksonville and Neptune beaches, Clay County, Suwannee County and Lowndes County, Georgia, but had no felony convictions. He was currently wanted on a sexual battery warrant issued in Leon County in January.
“It appears he knew that they wanted to speak with him and he was choosing not to at this point," Lendvay said.
It was the first police-involved shooting for all six of the officers who fired at Valentine. All of them were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, per JSO protocol. On Wednesday, they were identified as Lt. R.W. Beltz, 19 years with JSO: Officer M.S. Alumurung, 3 years; Officer D.M. Cochran, 4 years; Officer T.W. Hogan, 7 years; Officer JE Stillwell, 1 year; and Officer N.L. Propper, 1½ years.
The officers were all on the midnight shift and none of them was wearing a body camera. Investigators are reviewing video from other surveillance cameras in the area.
Lendvay said that with that many officers present, they were very aware of the dangers of hitting someone with friendly fire.
"That is a big part of their training. Obviously, you're not going to fire your weapon if you believe there's somebody else that can be injured whether it's an officer, citizen or what have you," Lendvary said. "We had about as many officers that didn't fire on the scene at the same time, so each officer is going to react based on the threat that they perceive and what they see. People at different places are going to have different vantage points and see different portions of that threat."