Mother of man shot by JSO officers says she hopes agency follows through with transparency policy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Yvonno Kemp, the mother of Reginald Boston who was shot and killed by Jacksonville police, said Wednesday she hopes JSO’s new transparency order gives families the answers she feels she still hasn’t received to this day.

Boston was shot and killed by JSO in 2020 following a robbery investigation. The State Attorney’s Office (SAO) ruled the shooting justifiable after multiple officers said Boston had a gun and pointed it at police.

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JSO said the new order governs the release of information in police shootings and the release of body camera video. JSO said this is how trust is earned and retained in the community.

Kemp said it’s been hard to trust police following her son’s death.

She hopes the new transparency order sticks for the sake of families this may happen to in the future.

Sunday will mark another Christmas without her son.

“Reginald always was the first one to come on holidays,” she said.

Kemp said she still doesn’t know all the details surrounding her son’s death, but has to keep her head up for Boston’s children.

“Them asking, you know, when are they gonna see their dad or talking to them about their dad or trying to raise them to know that all police officers are not bad. It’s just hard,” Kemp said.

Kemp said she doesn’t understand why officers shot him a total of 18 times. She’s also skeptical after a report from the SAO said a K-9 officer was instructed to turn his body camera off during the SWAT operation.

According to a JSO report, an officer turned off their body camera at the request of SWAT officers who said the bright blinking green light seen from the top of the camera would give away their position.

“If I find out that Reginald did something wrong, just like I’m sitting here talking to you now, I will get on national television and say that Reginald was wrong. But I need proof, and not being able to release that body cam, but for everybody else it’s been released except for my son’s. Why?” Kemp said.

JSO now says it will release information on police shootings within 48 hours and body camera video in 21 days if it doesn’t hamper the investigation.

Michael Sampson is a community activist who’s fought for the release of body camera footage in the past.

“You’ve seen body cam footage released, that clearly shows the officers being justified in their actions, but when there’s a shooting, that’s very controversial, that tends to be the body cam footage that isn’t released,” Sampson said. “We don’t want this just to be an order that happens today, after, you know, a couple of months after the new sheriff is elected, and then next year, they go backward.”

Sampson said he would like to see more civilian oversight for the order to be effective. Sampson said JSO has rejected this idea.

Kemp also thinks someone outside of law enforcement should have a say in justifying shootings.

“Honestly, I don’t trust Jacksonville sheriff’s office, period. And the community don’t trust them. So what they’re doing is they’re trying to establish trust. But in order to establish trust, everybody got to keep it real,” she said.

She feels the only way this transparency order will work is if JSO holds up its end of the bargain.

Kemp said it wasn’t until this year that she could look at a police officer and not get angry or frustrated.

While she still wants answers for what happened to her son, she hopes JSO’s new order will give someone else peace.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad