JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville's Sheriff is going on the record about a police shooting this week that left a man dead.
A JSO officer says he was forced to shoot and kill Neil Southerland when he tried to ram his patrol car during a police chase. For the first time, Sheriff John Rutherford is talking about what happened in a quiet Mandarin neighborhood.
Seven gun shots were fired by a JSO officer at a suspect they were chasing on Loretto Road in Mandarin Monday morning. Neil Southerland died in the front seat of his truck. Now many people are asking was the shooting justified. Southerland didn't have a gun, but police say he was using his car as a weapon.
Police sent Action News pictures showing how Southerland rammed his truck and trailer into a police car. Inside that car though was a civilian passenger, but 21-year-old Kristy Halstead isn't talking about what happened. She put a note on her door today saying she had no comments.
Police say they tried to stop Southerland by throwing stop sticks at his tires but he didn't stop. So an officer fired his weapon.
Friday Action News went to the top cop, asking him the tough questions about the investigation. We asked the sheriff if he thought the officer was justified in firing the shots. "Now you're asking me to go from a to c. You have to go through b first. Thank you," said Sheriff Rutherford.
Sheriff Rutherford dodged specific questions about Monday's shooting. "The state attorney's office is investigating. The Sheriff's Office is investigating and the truth will come out and justice will prevail. We'll have a transparent open process," said Sheriff Rutherford.
This is the 14th police involved shooting of the year. While 14 may sound like a high number, it's a lot less than last year. That's something the sheriff says he's happy about. "We are down 50 percent in our police shootings this year, mainly because violent crime is down in double digits we're happy about that 10."
The officer who fired his gun has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. This is standard procedure.
The NAACP also issued a statement this week condemning this police shooting.