JSO bodycam footage shows officers fatally shoot man with knife during drug investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released more details and bodycam footage that captured the final moments leading up to when police shot and killed a man carrying a knife during a narcotics investigation in January.

In an effort to demonstrate what the Sheriff’s Office called openness and transparency, JSO released a nearly six-minute-long YouTube video that included Sheriff T.K. Waters and Chief of Professional Standards Chris Brown talking more about what happened on Jan. 19.

Eric Thornton, 37, was identified as the man killed by police, according to JSO. JSO said officers were investigating someone they said is a known drug dealer named Brian Brightman. After observing what officers called multiple transactions, they attempted to approach the vehicle and that’s when Thornton, the driver, ran away and a chase ensued.

Officers said Thornton was carrying a knife as he was running away from them.

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The video shows footage from two different officers. In the video, officers can be heard yelling, “He’s got a knife,” and ordering Thornton to get on the ground. Thornton continues to run through the apartment’s parking lot. At one point, an officer fires about 10 shots, and Thornton hits the ground and is handcuffed.

Brown said JSO reviewed many hours of video footage and analyzed a significant amount of evidence.

This release comes 14 days after the shooting. The State Attorney’s office is still conducting a criminal investigation. Brown said JSO will begin an administrative investigation into the officers’ actions to determine if they were within agency policy.

The investigation is in the early stages, and according to Brown, it can take up to a year to complete.

JSO said it has not drawn any conclusions regarding whether the officers’ actions were appropriate with respect to the law or JSO policy until all facts are known and the investigation is completed.

Watch the full video here.

About the Authors:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.