The family of Jamee Johnson, a man who was fatally shot by an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, has retained a civil rights lawyer to determine exactly what happened on the day the 22-year-old died.
Attorney Lee Merritt of Philadelphia told News4Jax on Wednesday that there are witnesses who have provided different versions of events than what officers have said took place, and that those versions could be the basis for a potential wrongful death lawsuit.
Investigators said Johnson was shot by Officer Josue Garriga after a traffic stop at 21st & Buckman streets in Talleyrand. The Sheriff’s Office said when officers spoke with Johnson, they learned he had a gun in the car.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, officers asked Johnson to step out of the vehicle, and he initially complied, but as Johnson walked back to the officer’s patrol car, he pushed Garriga and the two struggled before Johnson got back in his car and began driving away.
The Sheriff’s Office said Johnson was reaching for his gun while Garriga was trying to gain control of him, while hanging onto the car. Garriga fired four shots, killing Johnson.
Records show Johnson had no prior arrests in Duval County. Merritt said Johnson was a legal gun owner, who had no felony convictions.
The family has taken possession of Johnson’s body, and Merritt says there will be an independent autopsy. Merritt intends to hire various experts as part of his investigation, and intends to ask the Sheriff’s Office for body cam footage of the incident.
It is still unknown why police pulled Johnson over.