JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax’s Ben Becker has obtained the JSO internal affairs report that concluded four officers received discipline for their part in the investigation into the drowning death of former Raines football star Louis Nix - who also played for Notre Dame and in the NFL with the Houston Texans, New York Giants, Washington Football Team and Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Parents should not have to bury their kid, it’s hard,” said Nix’s mother, Stephanie Wingfield, who along with Louis Nix Sr., sat down with Becker to review the JSO internal affairs report that concluded the officers made mistakes on the night his son died.
“You think there are some unanswered questions,” Becker asked Nix Sr. “Yes, yes,” he responded.
In February, Action News Jax first told you Nix was found dead in a north Jacksonville pond near his home, four days after he was reported missing.
A supplemental police report concluded Nix was driving the wrong way on the road, hit the median, then went off the road into the pond.
A witness called 911 and officers responded but left without ever calling in the dive team or finding anything in the pond.
A few days later officers recovered Nix’s body and his car from the same pond.
An autopsy report said Nix’s blood alcohol content was above the legal driving limit and there was marijuana in his system, although those numbers could have been skewed by the amount of time his body was underwater. Ultimately, the medical examiner ruled Nix’s death a drowning.
Action News Jax first showed you body camera video in May from the night Nix drove into the pond where one officer acknowledged fresh tire tracks.
In a transcript of unreleased body camera video, a JSO sergeant asked the officers, “I don’t know man. what ya’ll think? dive team call out?” One officer responded by saying “alpha.” And one could be seen laughing at the response.
Alpha means unable to verify.
In the internal affairs report, four officers were disciplined for various offenses the night Nix was found in the pond including the following:
- “failure to conform to work standards”
- “failure to take supervisory action”
- “violation of body-worn camera policy”
More specifically, internal affairs say one officer incorrectly concluded that what the witness “probably heard” were “beer bottles” being thrown into the pond, although she said she told the officer she heard a splash and saw lights.
The witness also felt like her testimony was “kind of dismissed,” but because body cameras weren’t on the whole time, the report concluded, “internal affairs is unable to prove or disprove the truthfulness” of the officers regarding the witnesses’ unrecorded statements.
Internal affairs did conclude the witness “remained consistent” and “should have led the sergeant to believe a vehicle likely had entered the pond.”
“Maybe there is a car down there to me that’s common sense,” said Wingfield. “I’m not JSO or a dive team but I’m thinking the witness thought that too.”
In addition, the sergeant also “canceled JFRD who was in the process of responding to the scene” although it should be noted JFRD does not have a dive team.
“The first thing they should have done is notify the JSO dive team,” said Action News Jax’s law and safety expert Dale Carson, who has 30 years of law enforcement experience including in the FBI.
Carson says the officers don’t have the proper training when it comes to submerged cars, but he believes it’s unlikely Nix could have survived until the time the dive team or JFRD got there.
“If internal affairs concluded this individual died because of their malfeasnece then that’s a different kettle of fish that’s not what happened here,” says Carson. “We have to have to have flexibility for officers to make decisions meaning there are going to be errors.”
Becker emailed JSO to find out the specific punishments the officers received and learned it included written reprimands, informal counseling and the sergeant was slapped with a 30-day suspension.
“We had to learn this from you that this report was done,” said Wingfield, who thanked Becker. Nix’s parents didn’t know the results of the internal affairs investigation but they do know one thing.
“Sure they didn’t know if it wasn’t Louis,” says Nix Sr. “I don’t care if it wasn’t Louis they should have gotten a dive team.”
Nix Sr. believes it’s possible his son was in an air bubble and could have been rescued. Nix drowned two months after he was shot in an attempted robbery not far from the drowning while putting air in his tires. An arrest has never been made and JSO has not provided any evidence the two incidents are related.
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