JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville police officer responding to a report of a suicidal man in a Mandarin home shot and killed the man after he raised a knife in the officer's direction twice, Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters said Wednesday.
Officer B.L. Kelly fired his weapon one time, killing the man, whose name has not yet been released by police. Family members have identified the man as Chris Ervie, 47.
Before using his service weapon, Kelly attempted to use his stun gun, but it was not effective, Waters said.
Waters said JSO was called to the home on Chesapeake Lane about 7:30 a.m. by a woman who was concerned because she said the man had tried to take his life Wednesday morning and that he was armed.
Ervie's sister, Jill Harris, told News4Jax it was his fiancee who called police. She said Ervie was depressed and needed help.
Waters said when Kelly arrived, he "encountered the suspect in the doorway" and then "gave loud commands" for the man to drop the knife.
Ervie refused, and Kelly attempted to use the stun gun.
“There is a certain percentage of people that the Tasers don’t necessarily work on,” News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said. “If the probe goes through thick clothing and doesn’t make contact with the skin, it’s not going to be effective.”
When the stun gun didn't work, Ervie raised the knife again, despite more loud commands from Kelly to drop it, Waters said.
That's when Kelly fired one shot, Waters said.
“They did not think this would be the outcome,” Waters said. “The purpose was to try to get him some help safely. Unfortunately, this is how it turned out.”
Kelly was not injured in the incident, police said. He will be on administrative leave, pending the investigation, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.
Waters confirmed that police had previously been called to the home in September, but that time the situation was resolved peacefully.
This was the sixth police shooting by JSO this year. Five of those were fatal.
Harris was upset, saying officers should have talked to her brother and not shot him.
"He was depressed. He needed some ******* help, and they did not help him," Harris said. "They decided to shoot him because they Tased him, and they weren’t able to get him down."
Harris said her brother was trying to get help for "some issues" and that he was "not a violent person." She said she's getting an attorney.
"I feel like they should have probably talked to him more, done something else. Why do we shoot to kill? They literally told me they shoot to kill. They don’t shoot in the arm. They don’t shoot in the leg. They shoot to kill," Harris said. "I find that crazy, especially when somebody is suicidal."
Jefferson said “shoot to kill” is a misnomer. He said officers shoot to stop the threat.
“In a life-and-death situation, you’re not trained to aim for a lower extremity hoping you can hit a leg or an area where the person's rate of survival is high,” Jefferson said. “You have to shoot to stop the threat, and that is just it.”