JACKSONVILLE, FL – Suicide by cop… or attempted murder?
Florida state police investigators are processing a scene and trying to determine why a man with a rifle would walk up to a police vehicle, strike the vehicle with his weapon, and then point the weapon at officers before being shot by the officers.
The man’s wife disputes the claim.
According to authorities, officers were parked in the Panama Park section of North Central Jacksonville last night while waiting for another group of officers as part of a gang investigation.
At approximately 10 p.m., a man approached their vehicle with a large, semi-automatic rifle.
He first struck the front of the vehicle with the butt of his rifle and pointed the weapon at the two officers. The officers got out and fired on the man, who was hit several times. The officers provided aid to the man until emergency medical service personnel arrived.
The man was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Jacksonville Police Chief TK Waters identified the officers as G.A. Taylor and M.L Mullis. The Chief said this was the first officer-involved shooting for both officers.
We are on the scene where a man was shot by @JSOPIO officers last night after police say he pointed a semi-automatic rifle at them. The scene is in the Panama Park neighborhood of Jacksonville off 63rd, east of Main St. The man died at the hospital. More on #GMJ. @FCN2go pic.twitter.com/uo3uvKunQL
— Leah Shields (@LeahShieldsNews) November 5, 2020
The man’s wife, Keisha Watson, disputes the official version of events. She claims that she and her husband, identified as Justin Darryel Reed, wondered about the black Chevrolet sport utility vehicle parked in front of their home.
Ms. Watson explained their “concern”:
“They never said nothing, that’s what I’m trying to tell you all!
How would you react if you saw an unmarked car just sitting in front of your house, dark tinted windows and no one is saying anything? What would you do, and you have a family? You are going to protect your family.”
Watson claims the police vehicle was parked in their driveway and she and Reed did not recognize the SUV. Reed went to check on the vehicle as Watson walked back inside their home. That’s when she heard shots fired.
Reed had an AK-47-style rifle with a sawed-off buttstock.
Watson recalled the event and the conversation with her husband:
“I heard him knock on the windows. He said, ‘Who are you all looking for?’ Nobody said anything. No police identified themselves.”
She claims Reed knocked again and asked those inside louder who they were looking for, but no one responded behind the SUV’s tinted windows, Watson said.
“I didn’t see anything until after I heard the gunfire and ran outside. I saw them shoot him. His gun — I don’t recall hearing no assault rifle — I heard 9-millimeter guns.”
Watson claims she remembers yelling “Justin, baby, get down, get down!” before she saw him fall in the grass next to the driveway. She says wonders why the detectives couldn’t have parked somewhere else to hold their “rendezvous”.
“Why just pull up in front of somebody’s house? Something has to get done because that’s not right. You could have identified yourself and this whole situation could have been alleviated.”
Justin Darryel Reed was the 13th person shot by Jacksonville police this year, with eight being fatal, according to local news. Thirteen officer-involved-shootings is the most since 2009 when 15 people were shot, with nine fatalities. In 2019, nine people were shot by officers and six died. The local media outlet of course gave no context about the other shootings.
#JSO is on the scene of a police involved shooting in the area of 500 63rd Street East.
No officers are injured. The suspect has been transported to a local hospital.
Media will be addressed at 1:30am at 7137 North Main Street. pic.twitter.com/wLcVw2tSwU
— Jax Sheriff’s Office (@JSOPIO) November 5, 2020
Detective G.A. Taylor has been with the Jacksonville Police Department for 4 years and Detective M.L. Mullis has been with the force for 3 years.
The 500 block of East 63rd Street, where Reed and Watson live, is inside the perimeter of the Jacksonville Joint-County Sheriff’s Office-designated Violence Reduction Section.
This area is targeted for enforcement to combat gang violence and general crime The identification and designation is part of the department’s Comprehensive Gang Reduction Strategy.
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October 22, 2020
JACKSONVILLE, FL – A 19-year-old man who pleaded guilty to numerous charges involving armed robbery, kidnapping and the slaying of a police K-9 is asking the courts for leniency during his upcoming sentencing, as the man is facing 35 years in prison for the numerous convictions.
“I would like to offer my apologies and condolences to Officer Herrera for not only the killing of his K-9 partner Fang, but his best friend,” Jhamel Malik Paskel said in court, who will be sentenced this week. https://t.co/NuFVHaewqA
— FOX 35 Orlando (@fox35orlando) October 20, 2020
During a court appearance on October 19th, Jhamel Malik Paskel’s defense attorney asked Circuit Judge Gilbert Feltel Jr. for leniency when it comes time to sentence him for a series of crimes he committed when he was 17-years-old.
According to reports, Paskel had been involved in an armed robbery and the kidnapping of two women – to which he pleaded guilty to – that preceded a high-speed chase. From the details revealed by Officer Matt Herrera, after this kidnapping and armed robbery incident, Paskel led police on a chase down I-10 that reached speeds as high as 120 MPH.
At some point when the vehicle chase ceased, and officers and Paskel were on foot, Officer Herrera released his K-9 named Fang to help assist in subduing the suspect. Paskel opened fire on Fang, resulting in the K-9 dying from gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
The total charges that Paskel pleaded guilty to were possession of a gun by a juvenile delinquent, aggravated fleeing, killing of a police K-9, armed robbery and kidnapping.
Reflecting on the loss of K-9 Fang, Officer Herrera said he lost more than just a partner that fateful day:
“He’s still a member of my family and it wasn’t just sad for me… It was for my wife, kids and parents … to go back and see that empty kennel in the backyard and know that there is no dog there, and to see the bloodstains in the truck that I had to clean up after he was killed.”
Assistant State Attorney L.E. Hutton said that Paskel killed K-9 Fang “in cold blood” during that episode two years earlier, while having played the police radio traffic from that very incident.
During the court appearance on October 19th, Paskel addressed the court by owning up to the actions he committed two years earlier, saying that he wanted to stand before the court “as a man ready to take responsibility”.
The young man, who faces 35 years in prison, offered an apology, saying he was standing before the court “as a man ready to take responsibility” for mistakes he made as a child.
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) October 20, 2020
Later on, during this address, Paskel also offered an apology to Officer Herrera:
“I would like to offer my apologies and condolences to Officer Herrera for not only the killing of his K-9 partner Fang, but his best friend. I want to apologize to the victims for scaring them that night. And I owe my mother the biggest apology for letting her down.”
From what Paskel’s mother said of her son during the recent hearing, she informed the presiding judge that her son suffers from various learning disabilities and has had drug problems in his past.
According to the plea arrangement reached between Paskel and the state, the judge could give Paskel up to 30 years in prison, between the armed robbery and kidnapping charges, and an additional five years for the murder of K-9 Fang.
If entertaining the maximum sentence that can be imposed, the plea bargain also notes that Paskel’s sentence can be reviewed at the 20-year mark to determine if an early release can be considered based upon good behavior in prison.
But Paskel’s defense attorney is asking the judge to show leniency on his client, asking for a 15-year prison sentence followed by probation.
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