Fight with jet skiers on sandbar led to arrest of Jacksonville corrections officer, warrant shows

Brandon Freeman, 30, charged with battery, improper exhibition of a firearm, JSO says

A dispute with jet skiers on a sandbar that escalated to a physical fight that left one of the jet skiers injured led to the arrest of a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer, according to a warrant obtained Friday by News4JAX.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A dispute with jet skiers on a sandbar that escalated to a physical fight that left one of the jet skiers injured led to the arrest of a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer, according to a warrant obtained Friday by News4JAX.

Corrections Officer Brandon Freeman, 30, was arrested Thursday morning on misdemeanor charges of battery and improper exhibition of a firearm, his arrest warrant shows. Later that day, he bonded out of the Duval County jail, according to online jail records.

The warrant shows police responded just before 7 p.m. Sunday to Jim King Boat Ramp on Heckscher Drive on the city’s Northside after a report of shots fired and a physical altercation.

According to the warrant, Freeman and four friends were on his boat in the Fort George River and met with another group of people at a sandbar, where they got into a verbal dispute with some jet skiers who sprayed water at the group on the sandbar and then left the area. About an hour later, according to the warrant, Freeman and his friends were heading back from the sandbar when his boat got stuck in shallow water. The jet skiers then came by again and parked on a nearby sandbar, and the verbal exchange resumed, according to the warrant.

Freeman got out of his boat and waded toward the sandbar, where he started a physical fight, the warrant said. During the fight, one of Freeman’s friends grabbed Freeman’s gun and brought it to him, and Freeman fired three shots into the sand and ordered the jet skiers to get back, the warrant stated. Freeman and his friends continued to strike one of the jet skiers, who was on the ground, and then Freeman then returned to shore, the warrant said.

Back on shore, according to the warrant, the person who was struck flagged down a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer and told the officer what happened. The person was taken to a hospital with facial injuries and a dislocated shoulder, the warrant shows.

On Friday, News4JAX tried reaching out to Freeman’s friend listed in the warrant but could not make contact.

News4JAX also went to the area of the boat ramp and met Jacksonville resident Scott Crawford, who fishes in the area every weekend.

“I ain’t ready for no gunshots,” he said. “We want it peaceful out here. We don’t need that stuff going on amongst the general public, much less law enforcement.”

Crawford and his friend James William, a Jacksonville resident, said that although they don’t see everything, they don’t hear about things like this happening.

“We come out to fish, and we don’t want to disturb nobody, and we don’t want to run for cover because it’s enough shootings in Jacksonville as it is,” said William. “We are just sick and tired of it.”

The State Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case for possible additional charges.

It’s uncertain whether the Sheriff’s Office will seek to fire Freeman, a five-year veteran of JSO who does have civil service protection.

Freeman’s personnel file shows that two complaints of unbecoming conduct against him were sustained by JSO’s Internal Affairs Unit — one was from a citizen and the other was in-house. In each case, Freeman got a written reprimand. Three other complaints of unbecoming conduct were not sustained.

According to News4JAX records, this was the eighth arrest of a JSO staffer this year, including the arrest of an officer who was arrested by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

Editor’s note: While News4JAX does not typically name suspects charged with misdemeanors, we have chosen to name the suspect in this case because he is an officer.


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