JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three official shootings in 2020 involving a 17-year-old boy have been found warranted by prosecutors in recent weeks.
Two of the shootings were fatal.
Prosecutor Melissa Nelson’s letters regarding the three shootings stated that after reviewing each shootout, they were all “justified under Florida law.” The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office has yet to conduct its own administrative review, which is currently listed as pending in all three cases.
In 2020, there were 16 shootings involving officials, according to JSO’s transparency website. Ten were deemed justified by the prosecutor. Three are pending and three have not been investigated by prosecutors as the shootings were not fatal.
On February 27, 2020, at a home by the Caribbean Court in Arlington, police responded to reports of a man who broke into his ex-wife’s home.
According to the prosecutor’s report, 39-year-old Dorgel Mesa, drunk and armed with a gun, called his ex-wife on FaceTime, put the gun to her head and threatened suicide. The officers negotiated with Mesa for hours to get out of the house peacefully, but he refused. At some point he fired the gun once in the house. Mesa then allegedly threatened that he had six cartridges left in his gun – one for himself and five for anyone who entered the house.
The sheriff’s office said at one point Mesa walked out of the house and acted erratically – waved the gun – and then ran back into the house. The report then states that Mesa went into the back yard and put the gun to his head. Then he pointed the gun at a SWAT member, Detective Michael Clark, who was on the roof of a neighboring house. Detective Clark fired a shot and Mesa died on the scene.
Clark was a 12 year veteran at JSO at the time of filming. According to the Sheriff’s Office, this was the detective’s first shooting that an officer was involved in.
An autopsy found Mesa to have a blood alcohol level of 0.215 – almost three times the legal limit.
The prosecutor’s report concluded that given Mesa’s aggressive actions that led to the shooting and his specific act of aiming the gun directly at Clark, there was reason to believe that Mesa was at risk of death or death serious physical harm to yourself or other officers.
On July 4, 2020, JFRD responded to an emergency call asking for help for an unresponsive person. The person was, after all, 17 year old Axel Perez. By the time the firefighters arrived, Perez had regained consciousness. The neighbors told the firefighters that he was “crazy and running around”. Perez then started chasing firefighters with a machete. Firefighters told police to jump over a large fence and run into the woods, where they would stay until after the shooting. JFRD then called JSO for assistance.
Officer Robert Gutcher came first and a neighbor told him Perez was at the neighbor’s house. There was a rifle / shotgun outside the house. The prosecutor’s report said that as the officer approached the front door, he saw Perez with the machete. The officer gave Perez several orders to drop the machete and come outside. He ignored the orders and went to a bedroom.
The report then states that Perez suddenly opened the bedroom door, looked at the officer, and attacked him. The report says the officer asked Perez to drop the machete, but Perez refused. Believing he was in danger, Gutcher shot several rounds and killed Perez.
An autopsy found that Perez was shot three times and had a blood alcohol level of 2.61 – more than three times the legal limit.
Gutcher has been with JSO since May 13, 2019 and this was his first gunfight involving an officer.
Darrell Paige Jr.
On July 26, 2020, JSO officers attempted to hunt a vehicle in the Powers Ave. and University Blvd. for a red light injury. Officers say the vehicle drove off very quickly and a chase has started. Police used stopping sticks near I-295 and San Jose Blvd. which made the vehicle stop. Officers then stated that the driver, 21-year-old Darrell Paige Jr., got out and ran from the scene.
The prosecutor’s report says that officer ML Kampfe stood close behind Paige and loudly ordered him to stop. Paige refused to obey Kampfe’s orders. To de-escalate the situation, Kampfe tried to burden Paige with a taser. The taser was ineffective when Paige twisted his body to detach himself from the probes. As he twisted his body, Kampfe observed a dark object in Paige’s right hand. Paige then continued running down a dark alley behind a mall and then turned into a dark wooded area.
The report says that Kampfe drew his service weapon and caught up with Paige, who stood several feet in the trees and brushed. Kampfe again gave loud verbal orders to Paige to show his hands, but Paige didn’t obey. Paige then turned his torso to Officer Kampfe while he still held the dark object in his right hand. Officer Kampfe believed the dark object in Paige’s hand was a weapon and feared for his life. He fired a shot. Kampfe then activated a light on his service weapon and at that point he identified the dark object in Paige’s hand as a cell phone and did not fire any additional shots.
Kampfe’s body camera was not activated during the high-speed chase or during the foot chase. However, other officials said they had “hands”, “show me your hands” and “stop!” Hear screaming. get on the ground “.
The prosecutor’s report concluded that the shooting was justified as Kampfe continued to order Paige to show his hands to use the taser first, believing Paige had a gun and would stop shooting as soon as the officer saw that the object was a phone.
Kampfe has been with JSO since August 2018 and this was his first shootout involving an officer.
Paige has been charged with escalating the flight and trying to evade a law enforcement officer. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 13 months in prison.