Jacksonville family identifies teen killed in police-involved shooting

Kwamae Jones’ mother says police never notified her of son’s death in person

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Eleven days after a Jacksonville teen was killed in a police-involved shooting, his family has come forward to identify him as 17-year-old Kwamae Jones.

The shooting happened about 9:20 p.m. Jan. 5 after Officer Nicholas Lawson spotted a car traveling the wrong way on Moncrief Road, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Chief of Investigations TK Waters said the officer tried to pull the car over, but the driver did not stop.

Waters said the pursuit ended when the car crashed into another vehicle near Moncrief Road and 45th Street before hitting a pedestrian bridge. He said there was “an exchange” as Officer Lawson approached the car and the officer fired his gun several times. The chief said a gun was recovered from the vehicle.

Both of the men were taken to the hospital. Jones died of his injuries, but the other man survived.

Katrina Benjamin, Jones’ cousin, said the teen’s family is still reeling from the sudden loss, so it hasn’t sunken in yet. “I believe when we view him, that’s when it’s going to become real,” she said. “But right now, it’s surreal.”

Jones’ mother, who did not wish to speak on camera, said she planned to visit the funeral home Thursday to view her son for the first time since the shooting. She told News4Jax she was never told in person by police that her son was killed in a police-involved shooting.

Officer Lawson is on administrative leave while they conduct an investigation. According to the Sheriff’s Office, it was the first officer-involved shooting for Lawson, who was equipped with a body camera.

Lawson’s employment history shows that he was accused in 2018 of failure to conform to work standards and of “bias-based enforcement.” He was given informal counseling after internal investigators only found evidence that he did not conform to work standards.

Kwamae’s family is preparing to bury him Saturday and are holding a vigil for him on Friday. Until then, they’re waiting to learn more about what happened.

“She’s been calling," Benjamin said of Jones’ mother. “She’s been initiating conversation, but she keeps getting turned away and being told it’s under investigation and they can’t give her any information.”

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