JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 34-year-old man was killed Wednesday night when he was shot by police after he pointed a rifle at officers in an unmarked police SUV on 63rd Street East, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
The man, later identified as Justin Reed, can be seen on surveillance video approaching the SUV on the passenger side while holding the rifle.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief T.K. Waters said the officers had been waiting for detectives to join them on a local gang investigation shortly after 10 p.m. when Reed approached with the rifle.
Reed’s fiancee, Shakeisha Watson, said the SUV had been sitting outside their home for 5 to 7 minutes and that Reed could be heard asking questions of the men inside. She said in the past, JSO officers have announced themselves when they were near the home, but that wasn’t the case Wednesday night.
“He said, ‘Who are y’all looking for?’ Nobody said nothing. No police got out and said, ‘This is the Sheriff’s Office.’ Nothing,” Watson said. “Don’t try to make him out to be this monster, because he’s not. He’s protecting his family. I don’t want nobody standing in front of my house, parked in front of my house and you’re not telling me who you are.”
Waters said after Reed approached, he hit the SUV with the butt of the gun. The surveillance video, shared with News4Jax by a nearby church, then shows Reed point the weapon at the SUV with three officers inside.
#JSO continues to investigate the police involved shooting that occurred on November 4, 2020 in the area of 500 63rd St. E. The suspect has been identified as Justin Reed (Black/Male, 34). The attached photo is of the firearm that the suspect possessed and pointed at officers. pic.twitter.com/2sy9UiS51X— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) November 5, 2020
The video appears to show flashes first near the back passenger seat, then the front passenger seat, followed by a muzzle flash from Reed’s rifle before an officer gets out of the back passenger side of the SUV and fires multiple shots at Reed, who falls to the ground wounded.
The third officer in the driver’s seat never fired his weapon.
Waters said the officers administered first aid to Reed, who died at the hospital.
Watson said during the shooting, her three children were inside the house. She said Reed also has three young children but that they live with their grandmother. She said the mother of Reed’s children died six months ago.
She told News4Jax that she and Reed were supposed to be married next month.
“He was a family man. He was very family-oriented. He always made sure me and my kids and his kids were always good,” Watson said. “He was a real people person. A lot of people respected him and loved him. He was not a bad person.”
Waters said the officers who fired their weapons were G.A. Taylor and M.L. Mullis, who have been with JSO for three years and four years, respectively. It was the first officer-involved shooting for both. they were placed on administrative leave, per protocol for all police shootings.
The officers could be seen in the surveillance video wearing body cameras, but JSO said they did not capture the shooting.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said that after watching the surveillance video from the church, it appears the officers were justified in firing because they were responding to a threat to their lives.
“They couldn’t sit there and let him just shoot (at the) car not knowing who’s in there or what they’re there for,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson said undercover officers don’t announce themselves until they are about to make an arrest, and the car sitting there at the time was not a threat to anyone. He said that although this is a tragic situation, it would have been different if Reed would have called the police instead of acting on his own.
News4Jax has learned that Reed had a felony conviction and therefore could not legally own a firearm.
According to News4Jax records, this was the 15th time Jacksonville officers have fired shots this year. Four times officers have fired and missed. Eight people have been killed and another five have been wounded in police shootings this year.
Last year, there were nine officer-involved shootings and six were fatal.