Officer kills man holding knife to disabled veteran's neck

Jacksonville officer, who fired 3 shots, was at center of high-profile 2016 case

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An officer, who was previously involved in a high-profile police-involved shooting, shot and killed a man holding a knife to the throat of a homeless veteran in a wheelchair in downtown Jacksonville late Wednesday evening, according to the Sheriff's Office. 

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters said the incident began to unfold just before 11:30 p.m. when officers responded to an armed assault on West State Street, near Florida State College at Jacksonville, after a witness saw Frankie Feliciano holding a wheelchair-bound man at knife-point and went to a store to call 911.

Waters said that Officer Tyler Landreville was the first to arrive at the scene and witnesses pointed him in the direction of the assault.

"Officer Landreville, at that point, began running toward the location of the incident, recognizing the danger involved," Waters said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

WATCH: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office update on deadly officer-involved shooting

As he got closer, according to Waters, Landreville saw Feliciano holding a knife to the neck of the man in a wheelchair. At that point, Landreville told Feliciano to drop the knife and when he refused to do so, the officer resorted to using deadly force, Waters said. 

Landreville fired three shots and the suspect was struck three times, Waters said. Feliciano, 33, died at the scene. 

Waters estimated shooting unfolded within 35 seconds of Landreville's arrival at the scene and said the outcome could have been "catastrophic" had the officer not taken action.

"This is just a microcosm of what officers face every single day," Waters said. "This decision, though not taken lightly, took place very, very quickly. And that decision helped save the life of one of the members of our community."

The victim, who said he was a homeless veteran and received a minor injury to his nose, told News4Jax that the officer saved his life. He said he didn't know why the suspect was so angry and was acting out or why he held him at knifepoint. He said he's only known him for a few days and said this came out of the blue.

"Officers are justified in using deadly force when it comes down to things like that. It’s not a whole lot of time to reason with a person who has a knife and has the ability to injure or kill a person. You don’t have much time," said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a longtime Jacksonville police officer. “When you’ve got a situation where a suspect has a weapon and he could use that weapon to kill someone else, as well as kill the officer or seriously injure someone or seriously injure the officer, then he’s justified in using deadly force to stop that threat."

Landreville, a 10-year veteran of JSO, was wearing a body camera, but the release of any body camera footage must wait until the State Attorney's Office wraps up its review and JSO performs its own administrative review of the case. Landreville was placed on administrative leave, which is routine for all police-involved shootings. 

Landreville was the officer at the center of the Vernell Bing Jr. case. He also previously claimed that the Sheriff's Office doesn't do the best job of policing its own.

In the Bing case, the State Attorney's Office released dash camera video of the police pursuit that led to Landreville shooting Bing, 22, after he rammed Landreville’s cruiser in May 2016 in Springfield. The family filed a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit, which is still pending. The shooting, which prompted an FBI review, was ruled justified by the State Attorney's Office.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Feliciano had eight previous arrests, six of which were in Jacksonville. Waters said Feliciano's latest arrest was on Feb. 25, on a charge of aggravated battery using a lug wrench.

A person who spoke to the victim Thursday morning said the suspect recently started hanging out in the area and what happened is not characteristic of the homeless community.

"They('re) shook up because they don’t like what’s going on," Roderick Dorsey said. "They don’t want the community to think they’re a part of that. They’re not a part of that.”

Waters said this was the fourth officer-involved shooting this year in Jacksonville.

“When an officer uses deadly force, he’s using the final straw and his last option that he has," Jefferson said. "When you’re talking about a life, trying to save a life, trying to save your life as well as others, then the justification of deadly force comes into play.”

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