Florida Police shot at an unarmed man this week, and it could have added ammunition to the Ferguson riots if circumstances had been different. Brian Dennison, a 29-year-old black man, was almost shot in front of his daughter during a traffic stop.
The officer, J. C. Garcia of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, had diverted his aim at the last minute and saved Dennison from serious injury.
Brian Dennison’s daughter had been having an asthma attack when he was seen racing through a parking lot. Garcia began following him when he saw the man run straight through a stop sign, barely avoiding hitting another car in the process. The suspicious green Ford Focus even began racing the wrong way toward St. Augustine Road and Garcia chose to turn on his lights.
The Florida police officer eventually had Dennison stopped in the parking lot of the Plantation Apartments, and approached the vehicle on foot. That was when things could have gone so much worse.
Garcia allegedly saw Dennison holding an inhaler and thought it was a weapons, and drew his own. Upon realizing that it was only an inhaler, the Florida police officer diverted his aim just in time to avoid firing on the man. The man’s 6-year-old daughter was in the back seat, and neither was harmed.
The initial Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office report didn’t mention the bullet fired, and the reason behind the omission was questioned. JSO spokesperson Melissa Bujeda stated that it was being considered a separate investigation. The official report on the gunshot was a short one.
“On 11-24-14, a JSO Patrol Officer conducted a traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle at 3900 Toledo Rd. During the traffic stop the Officer fired his handgun one time. No one was injured. The Cold Case Unit will follow up the investigation.”
Dennison’s cousin, Dekierian Cook, claimed he was puzzled by the gunshot.
“I think he just shot to shoot, you know. There’s really no reason.”
Cook also stated that Dennison had been racing home to get his daughter’s medication, and she had been suffering an asthma attack. It is unknown if he was able to retrieve the medication.
Dennison was arrested for knowingly driving with a suspended license.
— RT (@RT_com) November 26, 2014
Garcia, a five-year veteran with the Florida police, has yet to be placed on leave for his first shooting. Bujeda explained the delay in the officer’s punishment for the misfired gunshot.
“Being placed on leave is not automatic for every situation. It is up to staff to determine what will be done. Each investigation is unique and investigated as such.”
In the wake of the Ferguson riots, this shooting could have gone much further, but didn’t.
[Image via Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville News]