I-TEAM: Officer accused of beating teen has history of complaints

Officer Tim James censured 5 times in 3.5 years on force, records show

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville police officer accused of beating a handcuffed teenager in the back of a patrol car has been censured five times in 3½ years on the force, the I-TEAM has learned.

News4Jax obtained Officer Tim James' personnel history Thursday and found he received four written reprimands for complaints lodged against him by fellow officers and was suspended twice in those cases. In another case, he was investigated after a fellow officer complained he failed “to conform to work standards.”

He was also found at fault in two traffic crashes in his patrol car and had to take part in remedial training.

James is out on bond but has been removed from his patrol duties with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office after being charged Saturday with misdemeanor battery on 17-year-old Elias Campos. James said Campos spit on him.

That was the same defense James used after he was caught on video in April, forcibly taking a man to the ground while working security at a local hospital.

The April altercation began as an argument between James and Daniel Nyman, but a witness recorded video of James forcing Nyman to the ground, even though it appeared Nyman, who was recovering from jaw surgery, was retreating.

Nyman was jailed for the next six weeks, charged with resisting arrest with violence.

After James himself was arrested last weekend, the State Attorney's Office dropped the charges against Nyman and released a report to the I-TEAM, which indicated that prosecutors' investigation found Nyman "did not appear to intentionally spit on Ofc. T. James."

Instead, "Ofc T. James appears to spit toward the ground."

Later, James defended that by saying he "spit because he realized there was blood in his mouth from (Nyman's) mouth."

The State Attorney's Office didn't buy it and noted a problem with the fact that James' back up on the report was his wife, Kathleen James, another JSO officer. The couple was working in uniform while off duty, acting as security for the hospital. There is no JSO policy against that, but prosecutors noted "that relationship would be admissible evidence of bias at trial."

The five internal complaints against James that were sustained after investigation included allegations of “unbecoming conduct," "failure to be wholly candid," "failure to obey an order," "violation of social media policy," and "violation of firearms policy."

One of the crashes cited in James' personnel history came just months after he started the job in 2014.

Those crashes do not include a May incident in which James hit and killed a pedestrian on University Boulevard West.

The Sheriff's Office said James was responding to a robbery with injuries when he fatally struck 62-year-old Blane Stuart Land, who was trying to cross the street.

Land's family plans to sue, saying JSO knew James was a danger on the road.

The I-TEAM discovered James also received a ticket for running a red light improperly in his patrol car, and court records show the fees he owes on that citation were sent to collections last October.

Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.