JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday released body-worn camera footage from an evening last month when officers said a man fired a shot that grazed an officer’s face and police returned fire, killing the man.
On Jan. 20, according to JSO, police were investigating a residential burglary on West 2nd Street in which a smartwatch was stolen when officers found Leon Burroughs, 39, asleep in a car on Hardee Street. Police said they arrived at that location by tracking the smartwatch’s GPS. Police said they found a gun on the roof the car, and an officer moved it to the back of the trunk.
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The Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday morning posted a video on YouTube containing footage that was recorded on police body camera that night.
One video clip is recorded from an officer standing on the driver’s side of the car, next to the open back passenger door. Police are then seen trying to wake Burroughs up, with one officer saying, “Leon, wake up buddy. We need to talk to you.” In the video, they ask him to show his hands, and he asks them to get the lights out of his face.
About 5 minutes and 30 seconds into the nearly 9-minute YouTube video, gunshots can be heard, and officers can be seen firing into the car.
The officer who was wounded says: “I’ve been hit, start Rescue 10-68 (rescue unit needed/appears in acure distress).” Another officer asks, “You good? You good?” He responds “I don’t know.”
The officer was OK. Burroughs died.
JSO then shows a slow-motion version of the video that, according to police, shows the initial shot fired by Burroughs, and the muzzle flash from the weapon can be seen.
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Another video clip shows the gunfire from a different perspective. That bodycam footage comes from an officer behind the car.
Toward the end of the YouTube video, police include images of the gun found on the roof of the vehicle and the firearm that was fired at police. There is also a photo of the smartwatch that police said was stolen.
Burroughs’ grandmother, Jewel Hill, said she was at the home next to where the shooting happened.
“The next thing I know, ‘Pop, pop, pop,’” she recounted.
Hill told News4JAX that she watched the bodycam video Tuesday morning with Burroughs’ father. She said she did not believe it was a justified shooting.
She told News4JAX days after the shooting that she talked with officers right before. After seeing the video, she said, she believes that officers could have identified themselves more and that they could have used a family member like herself to talk Burroughs out of the car without anyone getting hurt.
She also pointed out that he was lying down. She said she cannot definitively tell from the video that Burroughs fired the shot at police.
She didn’t want to go into more details on camera Tuesday because she is talking to her lawyer.
Police and prosecutors are still investigating the case and have not come to any conclusions about if officers acted according to the law or JSO policy, but they are releasing this video 18 days after the incident for transparency.