Report explains why no charges were filed in 7-year-old's death

Tashawn Gallon was hit by stray bullet during shootout, police say

By Frank Powers - Assignment manager, Nick Jones - Digital producer

Photo of Tashawn Gallon from GoFundMe page

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The final report from the State Attorney's Office sheds light on why no charges will be filed in the death of a 7-year-old boy caught on the midst of a shootout, saying under state law, the death of Tashawn Gallon was justifiable.

The sequence of events began in November 2017, with the murder of Telvin Kennedy. In February of 2018, Vetta Muller was gunned down, in what investigators believe was retaliation for the killing of Kennedy.

While JSO received many tips that the man who opened fire on Tashawn’s family two weeks later was Silas Ervin, he denied involvement in interviews, the report found. Ervin, who did admit to being a drug dealer, told police Dominique Holcombe was targeted that night in retaliation for the murder of Vetta Muller.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Dominique Holcombe is believed to be the man who shot Muller, but he has not been charged.

The state attorney’s office found that minutes after Tashawn was shot, there were two shootings directed at Ervin. One shooting occurred at a home where Ervin sold drugs, and another happened at Ervin's mother's house. No one was struck by gunfire in either case.

Six weeks later, Ervin and his girlfriend were gunned down at an Easter party, investigators said.

On the night Tashawn was killed, a group of men were "smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol" on a porch on Mt. Herman Street when someone fired several shots from the passenger side of a stolen SUV, police said. Holcomb was at the home, as was Henry Smith Jr., who later admitted to detectives that he fired back in self-defense, aiming for the SUV. Ballistics evidence shows the bullet that struck Tashawn came from Smith Jr.'s gun.

According to the final report from the State Attorney's Office, "There is no identifiable occupant of the suspect SUV. Under these circumstances, there is insufficient evidence to support a successful prosecution."

No weapons were recovered in the investigation. The report finds that through ballistics evidence, Tashawn was "inadvertently shot" by his uncle, Henry Smith Jr. 

The State Attorney's Office said, "Smith can articulate a compelling and persuasive claim of self-defense and the defense of others." It concluded, "The death of Tashawn Gallon is a tragic and unintentional by-product of the law governing the justifiable use of deadly force."

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