JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A city of Jacksonville attorney admitted the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office “mistakenly” deleted an officer’s disciplinary records.
That officer has been under investigation for two months, after he was involved in a struggle with a Jacksonville father who later died in the hospital.
Action News Jax started investigating last month after we noticed records were clearly missing from Officer Stuart Maddox’s disciplinary history.
Bri’shod Mays told Action News Jax on May 2 that he’s suspicious about how his brother Jalen Mays died.
“Certain things don’t look right. It doesn’t add up,” said Bri’shod Mays on May 2.
JSO said officers were called to a westside convenience store April 30 because Jalen Mays was acting erratically.
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According to JSO, he told officers to “kill me” and got into a struggle with them.
He was taken to a hospital, where he died two days later.
“We look very identical. I walked in the hospital room. I did not recognize who I was looking at,” said Bri’shod Mays on May 2.
The officers involved in that scuffle, Stuart Maddox and Matthew Reddish, are still under investigation -- but are now back on patrol.
Action News Jax requested “all documentation of disciplinary matters” for both officers that week.
Nearly two months later, we got the records from JSO.
I started investigating last month after I noticed records were clearly missing from a JSO officer's internal affairs history. A city attorney now admits JSO "mistakenly" deleted them: https://t.co/YEYBcuhivV. Watch this #exclusive @ActionNewsJax Investigation at 11. pic.twitter.com/RhCgUDrofE— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) July 2, 2019
All documents related to Officer Maddox’s 2017 sustained “interference with an investigation” were missing.
It’s JSO practice to keep that kind of record for three years, but instead, JSO deleted the original complaint and documentation of the investigation after one year.
Action News Jax requested an interview with Stephen Powell, the Chief of Tort and Employment Litigation in the city’s Office of General Counsel.
Powell emailed Action News Jax’s corporate attorney a statement instead.
In the email, Powell pointed out that the “formal counseling” Maddox got after interfering in an investigation is not considered discipline.
“Nonetheless, JSO’s practice is to retain such records in an abundance of caution,” said Powell in his email. “The Internal affairs unit mistakenly treated the records for purposes of purging as an unfounded disposition,” which can be deleted after one year.
Powell called it “an administrative error with respect to JSO’s practices only and internal measures have been taken to prevent this from recurring.”
Action News Jax reached out to Officer Maddox through the police union. Union president Steve Zona said Maddox did not have a comment at this time.
The Medical Examiner’s Office said Jalen Mays’ autopsy was not finalized, as of July 1.
Here is Powell’s full emailed statement:
“The documents associated with IA Number 17-00767 were purged after one year because the recommended administrative action was changed from a Written Reprimand–Level I to a Formal Counseling during the contractual grievance process (as indicated on the officer’s attached EAIH). A formal counseling is not a “discipline” under the City’s collective bargaining agreement with the FOP, nor is it clearly “informal discipline” as the term is used in GS-2 Item #135. Nonetheless, JSO’s practice is to retain such records in an abundance of caution in respect of Item #135. On review, it was discovered that the Internal Affairs Unit mistakenly treated the records for purposes of purging as an Unfounded disposition (subject to being purged after one year from disposition) because the officer received no discipline. This was an administrative error with respect to JSO’s practices only and internal measures have been taken to prevent this from recurring.”
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