The settlement case involving a 22-year-old shot and killed by police is getting push back from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said the settlement payment made to Jamee Johnson’s family was done without his knowledge or consent.
“No one said anything to me about it,” Sheriff Waters said. “What I found out was they called me and said ‘we settled.’”
The City of Jacksonville agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit over a police shooting in which Johnson was killed.
“No amount of money they could ever give me would be justified for Jamee’s life, because to me his life was priceless,” Kimberly Strickland, Jamee’s mother, said. “It had been almost four years, and I was just trying to find some sort of closure with everything.”
Strickland said she wanted to settle so this didn’t continue to get drawn out.
Johnson was pulled over in a 2019 traffic stop. The officer said he smelled something like marijuana in the car.
The officer asked if there was anything inside the car that he needed to know about, and Johnson admitted to having a gun.
He was instructed to get out of the car. Body camera video shows Johnson lunging back into the car.
The two struggled as Johnson hit the gas pedal. Johnson was shot and later died.
“I’m not saying he did everything right that day. I’m not saying he did everything wrong that day, but he didn’t deserve to die,” Strickland said.
The agreement between the city and Johnson’s family was reached in August and the case was officially dismissed Monday.
“His opinion is really kind of irrelevant,” Strickland said, adding that Sheriff Waters was not the current sheriff at the time of the incident.
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Sheriff Waters released the following statement in regards to the lawsuit.
“On December 19, 2019, Jamee Johnson was killed while attempting to take the life of a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. That incident was fully investigated by the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida. The State Attorney Office’s independently determined that our officer lawfully and justifiably used deadly force in defense of his own life.
“A civil lawsuit was later filed, and I was disappointed to learn that the agency’s attorneys from Office of General Council for the City of Jacksonville entered into a settlement agreement without my knowledge or consultation. City Risk Management also made the determination on settlement value, once again without my knowledge or consent.
“If properly consulted by representative counsel, my request would have been to take the case before a jury and not settle. JSO maintains that our officer’s actions constituted legally permissible use of force in defense of his own life. While JSO is bound by this settlement agreement, I am deeply disappointed by the outcome of this litigation and JSO’s lack of proper notification by our attorneys.”
Action News Jax asked the Mayor’s Office and the Office of General Council about why Sheriff Waters wasn’t notified about the settlement negotiations. Mayor Donna Deegan released the following statement:
“I’m disappointed that the Sheriff wasn’t notified during the mediation that started under the previous administration. The Office of General Counsel is committed to ensuring all their clients are properly notified moving forward.”
One note of clarification, this settlement was reached in August. The case was dismissed on Monday.