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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters held a news conference Monday to address the claims that have been circulating against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office after a forceful arrest video went viral, sparking protests and a lot of commentary online.
Waters released partial bodycam footage of the arrest of Le’Keian Woods to counter the viral footage that “caused outrage among some in our community,” saying that the cell phone footage going around online does not show the full story.
“This intentionally misguiding manipulation of facts is wrong and dangerous,” Waters said in response to the “misleading information” spreading on social media.
The over 5-minute video that sparked outrage online and in certain advocacy groups in the city did not show what led to Woods suffering swollen eyes and a bloody face after a forceful arrest encounter with police. Waters acknowledged the aggressive force officers used to detain Woods.
Although an investigation is underway, at this point, Waters said it appears the officers’ use of force was within the agency’s protocol.
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“There was force used by detectives, and yes, that force is ugly,” he said. “But the reality is that all force is ugly and just because force is ugly does not mean it is unlawful or contrary to policy.”
The video that has since drawn local and national attention appeared to show Woods face down on the ground, surrounded by several officers as they forcefully placed him in handcuffs.
At one point in the video, it could be assumed that an officer kicked Woods once he was handcuffed and sitting on the curb. This was an action that also caused a lot of commentary.
Waters wanted to make it clear that the public understood that the detective in the video did not kick Woods, calling that portion of the cell phone footage “altered” in an agenda to turn the community against police officers.
“The detective never kicked the handcuffed Woods,” Mike Shell said. “Body-worn camera footage along with unedited versions of cell phone camera footage on social media, both definitively [sic] evidence that the detective never kicked a handcuffed Woods.”
Waters said the officer was stretching his leg.
According to a JSO arrest report, the incident started when the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit was conducting undercover surveillance in the San Jose area.
The truck Woods was riding in was pulled over by police because it was believed to be involved in a drug deal.
The video begins with police ordering everyone in the truck to show their hands and then get out of the vehicle. Woods’ brother was also in the vehicle got out and surrendered without incident. A handgun can be seen in his side pocket in the video.
A third person also exits the vehicle and surrenders.
Woods, however, gets out of the vehicle and runs.
The footage shows the chase through an apartment complex between Woods and a detective.
According to Shell, the detective warned Woods that he would be tased if he did not stop running.
The officer tases Woods with a stun gun for the first time to which Woods stumbles but continues to run. Then the officer tases him a second time, causing Woods to fall face-first onto the pavement.
“Woods immediately stopped moving and fell straightforward, hitting his face on the pavement. His impact immediately caused visible abrasions, bleeding and swelling,” Shell said.
The video catches Woods visibly bleeding, but it is unclear where he was injured.
Because Woods was holding on to the front of his waistline during the chase the pursuing detective believed that meant he had a gun. When the detective attempted to place handcuffs on Woods, according to police, he continued to resist arrest.
That’s when other officers come to assist the detective.
The report said it took three detectives and a patrol officer to get Woods into handcuffs.
According to the report, one detective hit Woods five times in the face and once in the ribs. Another kneed him four times in the ribs and face, according to the report.
One of the detectives said in the report there were “unintentional knee strikes to Le’Keian’s face during the struggle.”
The officers in the video are still employed, according to Waters, but the investigation is still ongoing.
Wood’s mother, cousin and lawyers have spoken out about the incident and still question if the aggression was necessary to detain him after seeing the footage.
“It’s unacceptable and you cannot justify it because if you justify it, it’s gonna happen to the next one, and the next one and the next one,” Attorney Marwan Porter with The Porter Firm said.
The family is pushing JSO to be as transparent as the sheriff’s office said it’s going to be.
“My initial thought is practice what you preach. If you’re going to preach transparency, practice transparency, full transparency. By them only playing a part of the body cam video, it causes more questions. It raises more questions than what it answers,” Porter said.
Wood’s mother, Natassia Woods, said she felt “pure anger” watching the footage.
“He didn’t have to be done like that. It doesn’t make sense. Y’all saying he resisted arrest. How is an unconscious man resistant? Where’s the violence at? The only violence I’ve seen was the violence from you guys. I didn’t see him put up a fight. He didn’t throw any licks. He didn’t swing on y’all,” she expressed.
There is still more to the story and missing pieces, according to Porter.
“We know that there’s one part of the video where he’s picked up by his arms and slammed to the ground. That was not shown on the footage displayed by JSO. Why? Why was that conveniently left out,” he questioned. “Even if he was trying to prevent you all from putting his hands behind his back, should it really have resulted in him being beat in his face, being mutilated in that sense?”
Natassia said her family plans to fight for justice for her son and on Tuesday the family plans to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. in front of police headquarters.
See JSO’s full-body cam video here. Viewer discretion is advised.
Watch the entire news conference below:
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