Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt has been retained by the family of yet “another young Black male killed by the police.”
Jamee Johnson, 22, died Saturday (Dec. 14) night after he was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting after a traffic stop, Action News Jax reports.
Johnson was a former college student who attended Florida A&M University from fall 2015 to spring 2019 and was a business administration major, according to the university’s communications department, Action News Jax reports.
“Sadly our office has been retained to represent the family of another young black male killed by the police,” Merritt tweeted on Monday (Dec. 16). “#JameeJohnson was a senior business major at FAMU.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) said Johnson was shot after a traffic stop turned up a pistol, Action News Jax reports.
According to JSO Chief Investigator T.K. Waters, officers learned Johnson had a gun in the car, which is not illegal in Florida, when they spoke with him during the traffic stop, WFSU reports.
Initially, Johnson cooperated with police when he was asked to step out of the car, Waters said.
But when Johnson was walking to the officer’s patrol car, he pushed Officer J. Garriga, and a struggle between the two of them ensued, WFSU reports.
Johnson reportedly jumped into his car and tried to get away, the JSO said, Action News Jax reports.
Officer Garriga got behind the suspect, who was allegedly reaching for his handgun and at one point during their scuffle, the JSO said Johnson hit the gas while the officer was partially hanging out of the car, Action News Jax reports.
“The suspect was reaching for the gun while officer Garriga was trying to gain control of him. during the struggle the suspect hit the accelerator," Waters told reporters gathered at a Sunday (Dec. 15) press conference, WFSU reports. "The vehicle moved forward quickly while officer Garriga’s body was partially exposed outside the vehicle.”
After Johnson stopped abruptly, according to the JSO, Garriga fired four shots at him, Action News Jax reports.
The JSO said Garriga and another officer who was there, K. Graham, attempted CPR on him at the scene before paramedics arrived. Johnson was later pronounced dead at the hospital, the JSO said, Action News Jax reports.
The JSO also said that a pistol with an extended magazine was found during a search of Johnson’s car, Action News Jax reports.
“He was in legal possession of a firearm during a traffic stop,” Merritt wrote in Monday’s tweet. “We demand to see camera footage from the stop.”
According to WFSU, the video footage has not been released due to the ongoing investigation.
Waters told reporters Sunday (Dec. 15) that Johnson had no prior criminal history, WFSU reports.
The JSO also said the police officers were treated and released for minor injuries, which occurred when the car was moving, Action News Jax reports.
Both officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, WFSU reports.
The shooting is under investigation by both the JSO and the state attorney’s office, WFSU reports.
"I have formally requested that the Office of the Governor direct FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) to monitor and review the aforementioned police involved shooting to gather all the facts in a timely and expeditious manner,” Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) wrote in a statement on his Facebook page, WFSU reports.
Johnson’s friends said things aren’t adding up and they don’t believe their friend deserved what happened, WTXL reports.
“You hear about it everyday happening and you go ‘that’s so crazy,’” Johnson’s friend Ty Cromer told WTXL. “Then it happens so close to home.”
Kalena Green, who told WTXL that Johnson was in her class at FAMU, said, “He deserved more time. He didn’t deserve his life to end like that.”
Green added that the story police are reporting about the incident doesn’t sound like Johnson, WTXL reports.
“It’s a devastating loss,” Green told WTXL. “To lose someone like- that, such a gentle spirit. It just makes you really confused on how something like this could happen.”
Cromer agreed with Green that the police’s account of the incident doesn’t seem believable, WTXL reports.
"I don't believe that the story they're putting out there because it was legally in his name. He has no criminal record,” Cromer told WTXL. “He has no reason to do the actions they're saying he done."