JSO arrests officer accused of hitting handcuffed man who spit on him

The incident happened over the weekend while the officer was off-duty

VIDEO: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of an officer who’s accused of repeatedly striking a handcuffed man who spit in his face

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Thursday announced the arrest of an officer who’s accused of repeatedly striking a handcuffed man who spit in his face over the weekend.

Officer Alexander G. Grant, a five-year veteran, is charged with battery, a first-degree misdemeanor, Undersheriff Pat Ivey said at a news conference held at the Police Memorial Building downtown.

The officer is still an active employee of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, according to agency spokesman Christian Hancock.

The charge stems from an incident March 27 at BestBet Jacksonville, a poker room on Monument Road. Ivey said Grant was working off-duty at the business when he was notified of a patron who was causing a disturbance in the parking lot and threatening to “shoot up” the business.

Police reports identify the patron as John Crosby, 43, of Brooklyn, New York.

Ivey said Crosby was detained on a charge of making threats, placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a patrol car. The undersheriff said things escalated when Crosby spit in Grant’s face and, in retaliation, Grant struck Crosby multiple times.

Footage of the incident was captured on body camera. The undersheriff said Crosby can be heard spitting in the video, which shows Grant wiping spit off his face.

Ivey said while police can use force to detain and arrest people, the use of force must be appropriate and in line with agency protocol. He said even though Crosby spit on the officer, that doesn’t excuse striking someone who’s handcuffed.

“So, that individual’s been charged with a battery charge also, but that does not allow a policeman, when an individual is handcuffed and already secured to the back of a police car, to then strike him,” Ivey said. “Definitely unacceptable.”

Another officer working off-duty with Grant witnessed what happened and told a sergeant, who notified the Sheriff’s Office’s Integrity Unit, which investigates misconduct. The Integrity Unit met with the State Attorney’s Office to discuss the incident, which resulted in Grant’s arrest Thursday.

Crosby, who’s charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, suffered a minor abrasion on his face, Ivey said.

He said the officer’s arrest is an example of the accountability process under Sheriff Mike Williams’ leadership.

“We have a track record going back under Sheriff Mike Williams’ administration,” Ivey said. “In that, all officers know of the accountability and that they’re supposed to report misconduct.”

The president of Jacksonville’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement about the allegations.

“We are disappointed to hear of the allegations made against the Ofc. Grant. Due to the criminal nature of those allegations, we do not want to make a comment at the moment beyond ensuring that his constitutional rights to due process are not infringed upon. We hope that through the same process afforded to all citizens in the criminal justice system these allegations are proven false.”

Steve Zona, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30

In 2020, 11 JSO personnel were arrested: 4 officers, 5 corrections officers and 2 civilians. Since Mike Williams took over as sheriff in 2015, there have been 56 arrests of JSO personnel, 29 of them police officers.