JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has completed its internal investigation into the actions of four officers on the night Louis Nix III was last heard from, and investigators have sustained complaints against all four officers.
A missing persons report quoted Nix’s girlfriend, who said she was on the phone with Nix just before 8 p.m. on Feb. 23, when he told her he was driving to her apartment on Broxton Bay Drive. He never made it, and his SUV and body were found in a pond at the complex four days later on Feb. 27.
According to JSO’s investigative report, Internal Affairs found that “despite physical evidence being located that was consistent with a vehicle driving in the grass near the pond,” the officers failed to request the Dive Team to come search the pond and should not have canceled the response by the fire department.
Internal Affairs also found that the officers did not adequately question a witness who called 911 after seeing headlights in the water and hearing splashing. The officers noted tire marks in the grass near the pond, but noted they did not lead into the pond.
Sgt. Harold Taylor considered the possibility that a vehicle might have been going at a high rate of speed and not leaving tire tracks, but he saw no disturbance in the plant life and algae on the pond surface and did not believe there was a vehicle submerged in the pond, the report finds. Taylor told Internal Affairs he was “confident the call for service did not meet the criteria for a JSO Dive Unit response.”
“They made the decision not to call the Dive Team and that decision falls back on the sergeant,” said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson.
News4Jax spoke with the former NFL player’s family following the release of the Internal Affairs report. His mother and father shared photos and mementos of their son.
“When I saw the body camera video, like I said before, I thought I was looking at a movie because they were laughing and joking at that time when they were laughing and joking they could’ve been doing something else,” recalled Stephanie Wingfield, Nix’s mother.
“They didn’t take the witness, they didn’t give her any credibility when she commented that he went into the pond,” said Nix’s father, who shares the same name.
The complaints against the four officers, and their recommended disciplinary actions, include:
- Sgt. Harold Taylor: Failure to take supervisory action, violation of body-worn camera (BWC) policy (30-day suspension)
- Officer Cameron Doan: Failure to take supervisory action, violation of BWC policy (written reprimand)
- Officer Jason Moore: Failure to conform to work standards, violation of BWC policy (written reprimand)
- Officer Casey Cavendar: Violation of BWC policy (formal counseling)
The BWC violations were for the officers either turning their cameras on late, or turning them off too soon.
Nix’s mother said she is not blaming a lack of action for her son’s death, but she wants to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to others.
“I am not saying our son could’ve been saved, but he could’ve been brought out of that pond that day and we would not have had to wait for days wondering why or none of that,” she said.
The four officers will have a chance to appeal the decision.