The office of State Attorney Melissa Nelson responded Sunday to accusations from the parents of a Jacksonville man killed last year by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police officer during a traffic stop that the investigation was skewed in favor of the officer.
The office of State Attorney Melissa Nelson on Sunday refuted accusations from the parents of a man killed by Jacksonville police that the fatal shooting investigation was manipulated to shield the officer.
Jamee Christopher Deonte Johnson, 22, was shot and killed Dec. 14, 2019, on Buckman Street during a traffic stop for a seat belt violation.
Nelson ruled that Jacksonville sheriff’s officer Josue Garriga was justified in killing Johnson.
Johnson’s parents, Harvey M. Johnson Jr. and Kimberly Austin, during a Saturday protest outside Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters, accused Nelson of releasing a heavily edited version of the body camera video and joining the Sheriff’s Office in a cover-up of the shooting.
The Times-Union tried but failed to reach the State Attorney’s Office for comment Saturday evening.
Sunday, that office emailed a response to the newspaper refuting the Johnson family’s accusations against Nelson and the investigation into the shooting.
David Chapman, with the State Attorney’s Office, said in the email that Nelson stands by their investigation.
“We recognize the Johnson family is distressed about the death of their son. Our office has kept them and their lawyers apprised of the status of our investigation since it began on December 14, 2019. We stand by our investigation. Our report and all of the evidence giving rise to our findings is now widely available to the public,” Chapman said.
Regarding the family’s accusation that Johnson was surrendering when shot, Chapman said:
“The only witness who claims this is Jamee Johnson’s first cousin, Kevin Haynes. Haynes denied seeing anything when first contacted by the police just hours after the shooting, and his statements were captured on body-worn camera. Haynes’ present claims are completely contradicted by Officer Graham’s body-worn camera footage.”
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Chapman denied that the office released an edited version of the body camera footage.
“That is simply not true. We added closed captioning and transcription to the footage for the public, which I would argue isn’t the same as “editing” in the sense that it did not delete or detract from the actual content. Further, we also released the non-transcribed/non-close captioned version and other pieces of footage.”
That information, he said, is available at https://sao4th.egnyte.com/fl/RKhWtAU9wG#folder-link/
In addition, Chapman refuted the family’s accusation that Nelson lied.
“As for Mr. Johnson’s claim of Ms. Nelson being “a liar,” it’s extremely disappointing, given the level of effort that went into this investigation, the report, and our consistent and clear communication with the family leading up to its conclusion,” Chapman said in the email.
Johnson’s parents have said the family intends to file a federal lawsuit over their son’s killing.
The death of the recent Florida A&M University student, who was unarmed when shot, sparked calls for prosecutors to release body-camera footage more quickly. It’s also been the focus of protests demanding police reforms.
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075