JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — While most people are preparing for the holidays, a local family is searching for answers after their son was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting.
Jamee Johnson was shot during a traffic stop Saturday. Since then, his family hired Lee Merritt, a civil attorney, to help them get answers concerning why their son was killed.
“We don’t know what happened. We really have no idea. We’ve heard competing narratives about what took place,” Merritt said.
Johnson’s family told Action News Jax that their son was a senior at Florida A & M University studying business. He was set to graduate in spring of 2020, but on 20th Street and Buckman Street in Jacksonville, he took his last breath.
“Some of the witnesses’ statements that we’ve heard informally contradicts what law enforcement has said,” Merritt said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said during a traffic stop, Johnson told them he had a gun but when they tried to escort him to their car, things escalated.
“The subject pushed Officer Garriga away, and a struggle ensued,” JSO said.
JSO said during the struggle, Johnson jumped back in his car and tried to reach for his gun while trying to drive away. According to the Sheriff’s Office, that’s when Officer Garriga fired at Johnson four times.
The family said they don’t believe that story, which is why they chose to have a separate investigation. Both officers were wearing body cameras. On Thursday, Merritt and Johnson’s family met with the state attorney’s office, where they were denied the opportunity to see that footage.
JSO said the body cameras were dislodged during the altercation and that there was also no dashcam footage.
“We’ll be looking for how many times he was struck, where he was struck, to see if it’s consistent with a narrative provided by law enforcement or with a narrative by witnesses,” Merritt said.
They’re having a private autopsy done, and a ballistics expert will investigate the car and re-create the shooting. Although this will never bring Johnson back, his family hopes their investigation brings clarity to how their son died.
“At the family’s request and by nature of our firm, our primary goal is criminal accountability. We believe that Officer should be held accountable when they violate Constitution or when they violate citizens’ rights. We don’t know if that’s the case here, but it certainly needs a sober look and a review, and the family needs to be treated fairly throughout the entire process,"
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