ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. —
On Wednesday afternoon, The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office released new information in Tuesday’s deadly deputy-involved shooting.
Although the deputy did fire one shot, the St. Johns County Medical Examiner confirmed the shooting was actually a suicide.
But this led us to ask if an incident like this, would encourage SJSO to outfit their deputies with body cameras, in the future.
Right now, the St. Augustine Police Department is the only agency in St. Johns County that has officers that wear body cameras.
According to Public Information Officer Dee Brown, the department has been using body cameras for about a year now.
Officer Brown told Action News Jax Courtney Cole they have not had any controversial incidents, but the body cameras have been helpful to officers.
Cole spent the day working to learn if the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has similar plans.
“You know, we have to be able to change and adapt to what our community wants. And that’s one thing, we have to listen.”
This is what Sheriff Rob Hardwick told Action News Jax in June 2020, when he was still the Chief of St. Augustine Beach Police Department.
Months later in November 2020, he spoke to us again after winning the race for sheriff. When asked about body cameras he said, “I think it’s one of those questions not if, it’s when it’s going to happen. And I support body cameras, I’ve never been opposed to them.” Following the deputy-involved shooting on Tuesday, Cole wanted to know where he stands on the topic.
The best way to reach the spokesperson for the sheriff’s office is via text.
So Cole texted her throughout the day for an interview or statement from Sheriff Hardwick, but she said, “He’s been tied up all day.”
Cole also went up to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, but was told Sheriff Hardwick was, “off-site.”
Action News Jax Law And Safety Expert Dale Carson said videos are very critical in many circumstances when it comes to deputy-involved shootings and interactions with people.
“The difficulty with video is they only present one perspective and it’s flat. It’s not...It doesn’t incorporate smells, sounds, behaviors, things that officers often use in order to determine whether someone means them harm.”
Carson has experience in law enforcement as a Miami-Dade County police officer and as a special agent of the FBI. He also served as a member of the FBI Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.
Carson told Cole seeing what happens on video can help give investigators clarity.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office told Cole the first officer-involved shooting this year, happened on Tuesday.
There were three in 2020.
Action News Jax plans to follow up with the sheriff and learn what his plan is to get body cameras.
We will update you when we hear back.
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