Police Victim's Brother Runs For Sheriff

Write-In Candidate, 3 Others Seek Office For Jacksonville's Top Cop

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A memorial for a man shot and killed by Jacksonville police in December 2009 will play a role in the upcoming sheriff election.

Police said Neil Southerland was drunk and was ramming his truck and trailer into a police cruiser. Police said they saw Southerland reaching for something under the seat, so an officer opened fire, killing him. [Read Story]

The fatal shooting was ruled justified. No gun was ever found in Southerland's possession.

Because of the shooting and that finding, Southerland's brother, Curtis, is running for Jacksonville sheriff. He is a write-in candidate.

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On his website, he said the truth of what happened has been covered up.

"I never wanted to seek office, but after what happened and what my family went through, I thought something had to be done," Southerland said in a phone interview.

Southerland's candidacy has not gone unnoticed. Three other candidates whose names will be on the ballot are aware of his issues.

Democratic candidate Ken Jefferson, who was out campaigning Monday, had this to say about Southerland:

"I am just trying to get my message out. I am not really concentrating on anyone else's message. I do know that there is a divide in this city in regards to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the way it's being handled right now, and I intend to fix that."

Certified public accountant and independent candidate Soren Brockdorf said he is aware of Southerland's complaints but said Southerland is only focusing on one issue.

"I looked at his website and I don't see anything except that, 'I hate JSO,'" Brockdorf said. "I don't hate JSO. I love JSO. It's the greatest organization in the world. Unfortunately, it's being run like a company in the '50s, and it needs to be improved."

Republican candidate and incumbent Sheriff John Rutherford was unavailable to comment Monday, but his campaign did issue a statement, saying, "The sheriff is the only candidate with police supervisory expertise and proven law enforcement leadership. We look forward to meeting with other candidates on the campaign trail."

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