Duval County

Family of an ax-wielding man shot, killed by Jacksonville officer files lawsuit for wrongful death

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nearly two years after an ax-wielding man was shot and killed by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer, attorneys for the family of that man, Kevin Mahan, have filed a federal lawsuit.

The complaint alleges the officer used excessive force and caused a wrongful death.


Officers were called out to their family home on April 21, 2022, for an armed disturbance.

Body camera footage shows the seconds before JSO Officer Richard Samples III shoots Mahan, who was holding a hatchet.

The officer is heard yelling for Mahan to drop the ax. As the suspect holds the ax next to his head, that’s when he was shot and killed.

The medical examiner ruled Mahan’s death a homicide and the State Attorney’s Office ruled the shooting justifiable under Florida law.

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On Tuesday, the family spoke publicly for the first time about their son’s death and their attorneys announced they filed a lawsuit against the officer, claiming he used excessive force, and against the city of Jacksonville, alleging a wrongful death.

According to the 12-page complaint, it is alleged that Samples “improperly and unnecessarily escalated a non-emergency situation involving an individual who he knew was likely having a mental health episode.”

“You don’t see that Kevin is a danger to the public,” said Mary Sherris, an attorney. “He is not out in the public, he is on private property and there are no family members around him.”

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Mahan’s mother said her son needed help.

“He was experiencing a mental health crisis,” Kathy Mahan said. “This is a wound that will never heal.”

Action News Jax reached out to JSO, however, due to the pending litigation, they said they are not able to comment on this incident.

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