JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville sheriff's officer was arrested on suspicion of beating a handcuffed 17-year-old, a department officer said.
Undersheriff Pat Ivey said Timothy James, an officer with over three years on the force, was arrested Saturday in the beating of 17-year old Elias Campos while he was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.
Ivey said a JSO patrol sergeant was flagged down about 4 a.m. by an off-duty corrections officer recruit near the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard and Farragut Place regarding information they had on a person of interest from another jurisdiction.
While the recruit was talking with the sergeant, a truck pulled up with the person of interest inside it. The patrol officer stopped the truck and detained Campos and his brother, 18-year-old Arel Campos, then called for backup.
Ivey said James arrived as backup.
Ivey said when the sergeant ran the suspects' IDs to see if either of them was wanted, he saw James leaving the patrol car where the Elias Campos was handcuffed in the backseat. While James was walking away, the sergeant said he heard Elias Campos say, “He hit me.”
The sergeant said he looked at the Elias Campos' face and James’ hands and didn’t see any sign of an attack.
Shortly after, the sergeant said he saw Arel Campos jump on top of James after he pulled Elias Campos from the patrol car, Ivey said.
The sergeant helped break up the fight, and both suspects were handcuffed and the Elias Campos was put back in the patrol car, Ivey said.
The sergeant said that’s when they saw James in the back of the patrol car, punching Elias Campos several times.
When asked why he beat him, James said it was because he was spit on, Ivey said.
Arel Campos was named in a burglary warrant and Elias Campos was suspected of resisting without violence, Ivey said.
Elias and Arel Campos' older brother, Jesus Campos, spoke openly with News4Jax about the condition of Elias Campos following his first appearance in court Sunday.
"He had his left eye, no, his right eye, is all swollen up,” Jesus Campos said. “He got scrapes up on both sides of his head. He has blood spots on both of his eyes. It's horrible."
James is the seventh JSO officer to be arrested in 2017. Eleven officers were arrested in 2016.
According to records, James was involved in an incident in May, where he hit a pedestrian on University Boulevard West.
The Sheriff's Office said James was responding to a robbery with injuries when he fatally struck 62-year-old Blane Stuart Land, who was trying to cross the street.
Police said Land ran from a Burger King in front of the fire truck. He made it to the center travel lane, and once the fire truck passed, he darted back toward Burger King, right into the path of the police car, investigators said.
The Land family released the following statement:
“We are aware of some of the reckless past of Officer James and have requested information about Officer James and what caused him to run over Blane on multiple occasions. We also have requested Blane’s personal effects. His recent encounters in Jacksonville only raise more questions to us as a family. Our prayers go out to his victims and for quick accountability and justice.”
According to the Campos family, they have reached out to Land's attorney for representation.
No matter what comes of the investigation, Jesus Campos said his family won't rest
until they get to the bottom of what happened.
"We're taking time to process this," Jesus Campos said. "This is something that we never really expected. My mother, she just hopes that everything can get cleared up, and this guy pays (for) whatever he has done."
Area attorney John Phillips said James was also involved in an incident at UF Health Jacksonville in April, where a mother said he brutalized her 21-year-old son, Daniel Nyman.
Phillips said James' incidents further confirms the need for JSO officers to wear body cameras or establish a citizen review board.
"Is this a culture within JSO?" Philips asked. "Have they hired the wrong people, or are these just sporadic bad apples?”
Ben Frazier, a spokesperson for the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, released a statement that reads in part:
"We will continue to press the Mayor, the Sheriff and members of the City Council until they enact reasonable and common sense police reforms. These reforms are designed to enhance the public's trust in law enforcement and to ensure police accountability."
Since 2015, nearly 50 officers have resigned or retired from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office while under investigation. Since Mike Williams became sheriff, there have been an additional 32 suspensions and two officers have been demoted.
Retired JSO officer and News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said with 18 officers being arrested in 18 months, it's a sign that the sheriff is not trying to cover up police misconduct.
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