HomeFeaturedFlorida Deputy Mistakes Falling Acorn for Gunshot, Fires into Patrol Car

Florida Deputy Mistakes Falling Acorn for Gunshot, Fires into Patrol Car

The deputy says he the acorn hitting his car was a gunshot.

Florida deputy mistakes falling acorn for a gunshot fires into a patrol car with a Black man inside.

Florida Deputy Mistakes Falling Acorn for Gunshot, Fires into Patrol Car. Credit: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

A Florida sheriff’s deputy in Okaloosa County mistook the sound of an acorn hitting his patrol vehicle’s roof for a gunshot and fired multiple times at the SUV where a handcuffed Black man was sitting in the backseat.

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Press Release

After an extensive multi-faceted investigation that led to the resignation of an Okaloosa County deputy, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office is releasing significant portions of bodycam video connected to an officer involved shooting November 12, 2023, in the Fort Walton Beach Area.

The OCSO distributed a news release on the incident Friday along with video from the Sheriff: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zJyvrBbGuhA/edit

A copy of the release is being shared again here, along with the link previously distributed to the 44-page internal investigation available to the public on our website: https://www.sheriff-okaloosa.org/…/IA-2023-031-Final…
The video includes interactions with the individual who called to report a stolen vehicle, as well as information given to deputies on the scene in connection to that call.
News Release from Friday:

An Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy resigned in connection with an officer involved shooting that took place November 12th, 2023 near Fort Walton Beach involving the deputy and a supervisor.

The internal investigation by Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards ultimately determined his use of force during a call on November 12th was not objectively reasonable. A policy violation regarding excessive use of control to resistance was sustained.

Deputy Jesse Hernadez resigned December 4th.

The facts and evidence gathered during the investigation also led to the determination Sergeant Beth Roberts’ use of deadly force was objectively reasonable. She was exonerated.

After the initial investigation into the officer involved shooting was completed, it was reviewed by the OCSO Criminal Investigations Division for any possible criminal charges. Subsequently the OCSO requested an independent review by the 1st Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. No probable cause for criminal charges was found. At that point per OCSO policy, the internal investigation was initiated.

Deputies had responded to McLaren Circle around 8:42 a.m. in reference to an initial call of a vehicle driving around honking its horn and disrupting the peace since 3 a.m. A second call for service came in from a woman stating her boyfriend, Marquis Jackson, had committed grand theft auto, a felony offense, and had been calling and texting her threats.

The victim provided text messages she said had been taken from inside her vehicle showing what appeared to be a firearm suppressor pointing at the dash of the victim’s vehicle. Jackson showed up at the scene around 9:09 a.m. and was detained, searched, handcuffed, and placed in the rear of Deputy Hernandez’s patrol vehicle while the investigation continued, and the victim completed the affidavit for the stolen vehicle.

The victim told deputies Jackson had a silencer and she was not sure where it was and that also he had more than one weapon.

As Deputy Hernandez was returning with a Victim’s Rights form for the caller, other deputies found the victim’s vehicle at 1656 Hunt Club Street.

Deputy Hernandez was approaching the passenger side rear door of his patrol car to do a secondary search of Jackson when he heard a pop sound which he perceived to be a gunshot and believed he had been hit. He began yelling “shots fired” multiple times, falling to the ground and rolling. He fired into the patrol car. After witnessing Deputy Hernandez’s response and reaction and fearing for his life, the Sergeant responded with gunshots towards the car as well in response to the perceived threat.

Jackson escaped injury and no weapon was located. The audible sound Deputy Hernandez reported can be heard on body cam video and witnesses also attested they heard the sound they thought could have been a muffled gunshot.
Deputy Hernandez had been with the OCSO since January 2022. Sergeant Beth Roberts has been with the OCSO since May 2008. Both were current on resistance training and firearms qualifications.

Sheriff Eric Aden said, “Immediately we began working diligently to determine the complete sequence of events and facts surrounding what transpired. Deputy Hernandez resigned during the course of our investigation but was ultimately found to have violated policy. The deputies were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. But let this be clear, we understand this situation was traumatic for Mr. Jackson and all involved and have incorporated this officer involved shooting into our training to try to ensure nothing similar happens again. We are very thankful Mr. Jackson wasn’t injured and we have no reason to think former Deputy Hernandez acted with any malice. Though his actions were ultimately not warranted, we do believe he felt his life was in immediate peril and his response was based off the totality of circumstances surrounding this fear. Just as we have an obligation to protect our officers so they can go home safely to their families, law enforcement has the same obligation to any citizen being investigated for a crime.”

Source: WPBF 25 News

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