JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A police officer fired his gun after a man who stole his police cruiser late Wednesday night but no one was injured, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The officer was assisting another at a traffic stop of a vehicle that was driving without headlights near a Walgreens at the intersection of Soutel Drive and Moncrief Road. JSO said a man unrelated to the traffic stop got into the police cruiser and drove off. The officer, later identified as B.M. Morokavich, ran after the fleeing car, yelled for the driver to stop, pulled his weapon and fired a shot, which police said didn’t hit anyone or anything.
Shortly after, the suspect drove off the road and hit some trees. Assistant Chief Brian Kee said the suspect got out of the vehicle and surrendered.
The suspect, 20-year-old Nalory Paul, was arrested and charged with theft of a motor vehicle. News4Jax cannot find any previous arrest for Paul.
Morokavich is on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure during an investigation of a police-involved incident.
Morokavich has been with JSO for less than a year. This was the first time he had fired his weapon on the job.
#JSO Assistant Chief Brian Kee spoke this morning regarding an officer involved shooting that occurred in the area of Moncrief Road and Soutel Drive.— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) July 2, 2020
The officer and the suspect are not injured. The suspect has been arrested for auto theft.
Watch here: https://t.co/RgokFZTKnN pic.twitter.com/eYmkkea7od
Even though Paul wasn’t hit, police said this will be investigated by the same Response-to-Resistance Board that investigates police-involved shootings. According to News4Jax records, there have been nine other JSO officer-involved shootings so far in 2020. Six of them have resulted in a fatality.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, who is a retired JSO officer, said unless police procedures have changed, the fact that Morokavich fired at the car from behind makes the shooting questionable.
“You’re not allowed to fire at a moving automobile unless it’s coming toward you or it’s endangering somebody else in the line of where that car is going,” Jefferson said. “If he’s behind the car and he’s taking a shot, he’s taking a risk of hitting someone else or something else.”
Jefferson also said if the officer is found to have violated standard operating procedure, it is possible he could be reprimanded. He said, in his opinion, it would not rise to the level of termination.