wjxt logo

‘Witness’ to deadly Westside police shooting accused of lying to investigators

VIDEO: A man who claimed to have witnessed the deadly police shooting of a Jacksonville man on the Westside last month has been arrested and accused of lying to investigators.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who claimed to have witnessed the deadly police shooting of a Jacksonville man on the Westside last month has been arrested and accused of lying to investigators.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Colin Terry faces one charge of perjury following the death of 32-year-old Michael Hughes who was shot and killed by police at an Argyle Forest hotel.

Terry was interviewed at the State Attorney’s Office on Friday after he came forward claiming to be a witness to the March 30 incident. After being sworn in, Terry was placed under oath and gave his version of what happened.

But the State Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that Terry was not there at the time of the shooting.

RELATED: Bodycam video shows struggle with officers before Jacksonville man’s shooting death

According to JSO, Terry knowingly made false statements during his testimony about the shooting. JSO said surveillance video captured during the incident contradicted what he told investigators. The report did not say exactly what Terry told investigators or what was seen in the video that contradicted his statements.

After he testified, Terry was arrested and held on a $75,000 bond.

“I believe it’s problematic and concerning,” Terry’s attorney Marwan Porter said in a statement Tuesday. “You subpoena a witness to come in and provide a statement and then you arrest them for providing the statement you made them give, claiming it’s a lie? What message does that send?”

The State Attorney’s Office issued a statement on the arrest Tuesday.

“Mr. Porter identified Mr. Terry as a purported witness to the shooting. After failing to provide Terry for an interview with investigators, the State was forced to subpoena Terry to appear. He failed to do so on several occasions, which required judicial intervention,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “The court required Terry to appear before investigators. On Friday, Terry appeared under oath and provided false and fabricated testimony. There is direct evidence Terry was not present at the time of the shooting. Lying under oath to the State during an official proceeding is a felony. This conduct undermines the integrity of these investigations and delays our search for the truth.”

The day before Terry was arrested, Porter and family members of Hughes held a press conference where Porter challenged the narrative set forth by police, saying the shooting may not have been justified.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Hughes fought with Officer J.H. Wing, commandeered his Taser and stunned the officer. JSO said Wing then fired multiple times, killing Hughes.

Porter said one of the two witnesses he spoke to believes Hughes didn’t get ahold of Wing’s Taser but tried to knock the Taser out of his hand to disarm the officer and keep from being Tasered. Porter said the witness believes it was Wing who Tasered Hughes and then shot him twice in the lower extremities inside the hotel room. Porter said those gunshot wounds were not life-threatening but left Hughes disoriented and stumbling and no longer a threat. Porter said that when the officers and Hughes exited the hotel room, there was a time gap, and that’s when Wing shot Hughes three more times, killing him. It’s unclear if the witness Porter was referencing was Terry or the other witnesses.

Last week, JSO released body camera footage that shows part of the struggle between officers and Hughes before the deadly shots were fired. One of the officer’s body cams malfunctioned during the incident and Wing’s bodycam was knocked off during the struggle and only shows part of the incident.

Porter said last week he has seen one hotel surveillance video but said the State Attorney’s Office has not yet shown him a second surveillance video. Porter is now demanding the release of that second video in the spirit of transparency.

The key question, Porter said: What happened outside the hotel room, away from the body camera’s view?

Porter said he doesn’t feel the shooting was justified and there’s a “strong possibility” that Wing could be charged.

Jacksonville attorney John Holzbaur, who is not affiliated with the case, said this type of arrest is not common.

“This is extremely rare. The last thing the state attorney wants to do is create a chilling effect throughout the community for witnesses to come forward with information relative to criminal cases,” Holzbaur said.

Despite the charge, the state will still have to prove it was Terry’s intent to lie.

The State Attorney’s Office is reviewing the shooting to determine if it was justified or not.

About the Authors:

16-year veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.