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Clay deputies justified in 2017 shooting of shotgun-wielding man, state attorney rules

George Nelson booking photo
George Nelson booking photo

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The State Attorney’s Office has ruled that deputies were lawful and justified when they shot and critically injured a Clay County man in 2017.

According to a report released Tuesday, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office responded to multiple 911 calls concerning George Nelson who was reportedly firing his shotgun in his rural Melrose neighborhood.

One of Nelson’s shotgun pellets hit a man while he was standing outside, a 911 caller said.

When reached by phone and told to leave his gun inside his home when deputies arrived, he said that he had a knife, was “an advanced part of Recon of the U.S. military,” and “would f*** up your police force," according to the report.

CCSO Deputies Michael Pollard, Roland Rousselle and Larry Weiss eventually arrived at the home on Lake Echo Ridge Drive.

The deputies said Nelson ignored their repeated orders to put down his shotgun, the investigation found. During the confrontation, Nelson said “shoot me” and yelled he was going to shoot law enforcement and other threats, according to deputies.

He then raised his shotgun, racked it and aimed it at deputies, according to the report from the SAO. Rousselle and Pollard then fired at Nelson and hit him multiple times in his arm and chest, the report stated.

Nelson, who survived his injuries, was later charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and discharging a firearm in public.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which investigated the shooting, interviewed Nelson about two weeks after the shooting while he was recuperating in the hospital.

Nelson told investigators he didn’t remember much about the confrontation but said he did not have any ill will toward the deputies and speculated that he was attempting to put his gun by his car when deputies told him to drop it, and it probably looked like he was pointing it at them, according to the report.

Nelson said that he had been under stress after his father and a family pet died and that he had lost his job a year ago and was having difficulty paying his bills.

The State Attorney’s Office concluded that deputies Pollard and Rousselle justifiably shot Nelson to “protect themselves and others from a reasonably-perceived threat of death or great bodily harm.”

A review of internal affairs investigations showed no pending or prior issues relating to use of force for either Rousselle or Pollard.

Investigation reports were also released Tuesday for two more police shootings involving the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The SAO found that officers were justified in the use of force in the shooting of Timothy Lagonia, who was shot and critically wounded by Officer R.A. Lind on Hawthorne Street, and the shooting of Leah Baker, who was shot to death on Golfair Boulevard by JSO Officer Meckling and Lt. J.C. Nobles.

Investigators said Baker stabbed Meckling in the arm with a butcher knife before the officers shot her. Investigators said Lagonia was shot after he pulled a knife on officers.

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