Sheriff John Rutherford recently announced that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has concluded its internal affairs investigation of two of the five officers’ response to the March 26th armed bank robbery and carjacking, where the armed robber/carjacker Jeremiah Mathis was killed by police, and a young child and his mother in the car were injured by gunfire.
The State Attorney’s Office cleared the five officers of any criminal wrong doing in June. This entity investigates all officerinvolved shootings and found no violation of criminal law or criminal intent by officers. By the end of the investigation, and based on the determination of no criminal wrongdoing, the JSO was able to convene its Response to Resistance (RTR) board hearing. (Garrity vs New Jersey, 1967)
The RTR board hearing, held in June and open to the public, determined that Lt. Jesse York, Officer Jason Lederman, and Officer Richard Santoro all acted within policy guidelines and they were returned to their regular police duties.
Also at the June hearing, that same board recommended that the actions of Officers Ryan Black and Darries Griffith be referred to Internal Affairs for an investigation into whether or not their actions were within the guidelines of the agency’s policies.
Both Griffith and Black fired their guns multiple times at Mathis as he carjacked a vehicle occupied by a woman and two small children, at a Wendy’s drive thru window, located on Baymeadows Road.
Mathis was attempting to escape police apprehension following an armed bank robbery he committed just minutes earlier, at a nearby Wachovia Bank, by carjacking the car and taking its three occupants hostage at gunpoint.
The two officers continued firing as the car occupied by Mathis and his three hostages moved forward in the restaurant’s drive thru lane.
The Sheriff’s review of the internal affairs investigation determined that because the two officers did not act with any certainty about the presence of the three innocent hostages, they did not use reasonable caution necessary to avoid unnecessarily endangering the lives of others during the discharge of their firearms.
The review of the investigation also concluded that officers Black and Griffith failed to use reasonable caution by shooting at a car that was in motion which caused them to continually move their point of aim, putting other officers and citizens in a position to be exposed to the gunfire.
It was later determined that 2 year old Daniel Crichton, restrained in a car seat in the backseat of the vehicle, was shot by one of Black’s 24 fired rounds. The child’s mother also sustained a gunshot wound. The child and his mother survived their injuries.