JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local bail bondsman and former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer tells News4Jax he did nothing wrong and was protecting himself when he fired at a wanted suspect.
James Brown, 61, is facing charges of attempted manslaughter, shooting into an occupied vehicle and battery for an incident that happened on the evening of Sept. 14, according to a report obtained by News4Jax.
According to accounts, bullets from Brown’s gun came dangerously close to a couple in the area, with one round striking their SUV.
Brown is a retired 30-year veteran JSO officer, where he worked as a patrolman, detective and SWAT team member. Brown also provided crime analysis for News4Jax on a few occasions.
When reached on his cell phone Tuesday afternoon, Brown told News4Jax he was just doing his job and his life was in danger. But the woman who was nearly hit by a bullet told investigators otherwise.
“I did not want those bullets to hit me or my fiancé,” said a 43-year-old grandmother who asked to have her identity protected. “At first I was stuck, I was shellshocked and then I heard my fiancé say move! Like, go, like snap out of it.”
She said she was in the area and had just left a food store on Lem Turner Road and Prospect Street when she saw a scuffle and a man using a Taser on someone who was on the ground.
“The next thing you know shots being fired at my car and another passing car,” she said.
According to an incident report, Brown told police he was working as a licensed bail bondsman, trying to catch a wanted suspect. But it was Brown who was arrested a week later.
In his arrest warrant, prosecutors claim Brown used a Taser on the suspect when the man tried to run away, and he fired after Brown claimed the suspect got into his car and tried to run him over.
Investigators said after reviewing surveillance video they saw Brown was at a time pinned between the suspect’s vehicle and another car, but they felt Brown could have gotten away. They also noted there wasn’t legal ground for Brown to use the Taser on the fugitive.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson worked with Brown at JSO. He said this case could go either way if it goes to trial.
“We’ve got a right to defend ourselves, always got a right to protect ourselves,” Jefferson said. “We will have to look at the totality of the circumstances around this incident once it goes to court. And look at the evidence as it is presented.”
Brown was arrested and booked into the Duval County jail Sept. 24. and released from jail after posting a $180,000 bond.
Brown said over the phone Tuesday that he wanted to go into more detail, but right now he’s going to stay quiet because he doesn’t want to hurt his case. He said he did not commit a crime, but wanted to talk with his attorneys before making a public statement.
Brown said the suspect he was chasing got away. A report from the State Attorney’s Office said the suspect was wanted for multiple felony charges.
Brown, who is being represented by the Public Defender’s Office, is set for arraignment on Oct. 15.