Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams reacts to police body camera video of Jamee Johnson shooting

Sheriff reacts to police body camera footage of shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The State Attorney’s Office recently ruled Jacksonville sheriff’s officers were justified in shooting Jamee Johnson during a traffic stop in 2019.

In December, Johnson was pulled over by Officer Josue Garriga for a seat belt violation, a primary offense in Florida.

Johnson admitted to having a firearm. The video shows the officer ask him to walk to the back of the car. That’s when Johnson, who had followed instructions up until this point, moves suddenly to the driver’s side of the car.

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Action News Jax’s Bridgette Matter was the only local reporter to sit down with Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams to get his reaction to what the body camera video shows.

Action News Jax asked Williams how his agency can improve the relationship between police and the black community.

“The issue of ‘I’m a young black man in Jacksonville or any city, and I am fearful,' we have got to work to change that,” Williams said.

The body camera video of Johnson’s shooting death is sparking conversations about police interactions in the community.

Christina Kittle with the Jacksonville Community Action Committee works with families who have experienced use of deadly force by police.

Kittle felt Johnson’s seat belt violation shouldn’t have escalated the way it did.

“What I would like officers to do is not immediately see everyone as a perpetrator as a suspect of potential criminal,” Kittle said.

A Stanford University study of nearly 100 million traffic stops around the U.S. concluded black drivers are 20% more likely to be pulled over.

The State Attorney ruled the shooting justifiable, and the officer had grounds for probable cause when he established Johnson had a weapon without a permit.

This video is only the second officer involved body camera footage released to the public. The State Attorney’s Office and JSO are creating guidelines in when these videos can be released.

“At what point during that criminal investigation -- is it at the end or is there a point in the middle where we are not worried about witnesses being impacted,” Williams said.

Williams said Officer Garriga’s actions will be reviewed by the response to resistance board next week. The board will evaluate if the officer violated policy.

Johnson’s mother said she has not watched the video and will not watch it. She referred Action News Jax to her lawyer for comment.