Family, friends remember Jacksonville man killed by officer

'This has been the best medication,' mother of man killed says of vigil

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Loved ones gathered Friday night to remember a man who was shot to death by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office last weekend.

“This has been the best medication any doctor or anybody could’ve gave me tonight,” said Jacquline Weaver, the mother of Harold Kraai. “In this is strength. We all stand together in strength, and this is what I needed to see tonight.”

Kraai should still be alive, Weaver said.

Kraai had schizophrenia and had an episode Saturday. Police showed up to Kraai’s home and Kraai allegedly approached an officer while holding a knife. 

Friday’s vigil was intended to be a call to action of sorts. Kraai’s family members said he didn’t deserve to be shot by the officer. Activists said they’ll keep fighting until that officer is punished. 

He’s since been identified as Officer R.W. Futch, a 23-year veteran of the agency. 

Sheriff’s Office investigators said Kraai approached the officer with a knife in hand, after police showed up for a wellness check.

In a 911 call, Kraai admitted he had not been taking his medication.

After police arrived to his home, Kraai was shot eight times.

“I’m saying one (officer) needs to be off the street. That’s the one I know about,” Weaver said. “They need more training for the mentally ill.”

People at the vigil called for police accountability.

“I’m not going to trash them all because they had wonderful police officers who helped me with Harold and I thank each and every one of them,” Weaver said. “He had friends who came and took him out to eat. He had friends who stopped in front of his house and talked to him. Maybe for one reason, that’s why Harold went out. He wasn’t scared of (the officer). They [the police] were his friends.”

Because Kraai suffered from mental illness, his family and supporters said the situation could have been de-escalated. 

Officers were not wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting and Futch has been placed on administrative leave until after the incident has been investigated by the state attorney’s office.

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