Florida sheriff’s deputy who got into a shootout with an acorn

Teeth Whitening 4 You
<ins class='dcmads' style='display:inline-block;width:728px;height:90px' data-dcm-placement='N46002.3910832MAHOGANYREVUE/B29181624.356591058' data-dcm-rendering-mode='iframe' data-dcm-https-only data-dcm-gdpr-applies='gdpr=${GDPR}' data-dcm-gdpr-consent='gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755}' data-dcm-addtl-consent='addtl_consent=${ADDTL_CONSENT}' data-dcm-ltd='false' data-dcm-resettable-device-id='' data-dcm-app-id=''> <script src='https://www.googletagservices.com/dcm/dcmads.js'></script> </ins>

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I don’t trust the police.

I am a Black woman in America who has seen the police do dangerous and corrupt things over the years, and it has left me believing that the threat they pose to the safety of the general public far outweighs the supposed benefits that come with having an active police force.

I recently heard another story that affirmed this for me. I will preface this by saying that the story I’m going to tell is wild, son, and there are parts of it that are going to make you laugh, but even as you laugh at what could be called the stupidity and illogical fear of a Florida law enforcement officer, please keep in mind that his actions unnecessarily endangered the life of an unarmed Black man and that sobering fact that is the most important detail in this story.

On Nov. 12, now-former Deputy Jesse Hernandez — who had been with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office since January 2022 — was one of four law enforcement officers who responded to a call at a Fort Walton Beach home where a woman said her boyfriend, Marquis Jackson, had stolen her car and threatened her. She told officers that Jackson had more than one gun and showed them threatening texts and a photo that Jackson had allegedly sent her from inside her car.

Jackson was searched, handcuffed and placed in the back of Hernandez’s patrol car. As Hernandez made his way back to the patrol car to conduct a second search on Jackson, he heard what he claimed he thought was a gunshot, and he immediately began yelling “Shots fired!” while rolling away from the vehicle and opening fire.

Because Hernandez thought the “gunshots” came from inside his patrol vehicle, he began unloading his gun into the vehicle where Jackson was seated — again, unarmed and handcuffed.

Hernandez’s partner responded to his call by opening fire as well, so both of them were shooting into a police vehicle where an unarmed Black man sat handcuffed and helpless.

You have to see the bodycam video footage for yourself to understand just how dramatic Hernandez was. He even claimed that he had been hit by the alleged gunfire. The only time I’ve seen better ducking and rolling was when I am mashing the square button while having a shootout with other players in “Grand Theft Auto V Online.”

It is here that I inform you that not only was Deputy Hernandez not hit with gunfire, but he didn’t even hear gunfire.

What he heard was an acorn falling from a tree and hitting the top of his patrol vehicle, as was revealed in the subsequent investigation into the shooting. Okaloosa Sheriff Eric Aden released the 44-page report documenting the investigation into the shooting on Feb. 9. Hernandez resigned in December while the investigation was still ongoing.

According to the investigation report, Jackson was searched twice before being handcuffed and placed in the back of the patrol vehicle. Hernandez was preparing to perform a third search on him prior to arrest when the acorn hit the roof of the car.

Hernandez told investigators he thought the acorn was the sound of a silenced pistol being fired from inside the vehicle, but he also admitted that he didn’t see any broken glass that would indicate a shot had been fired out of the window of the patrol vehicle.

Hernandez yelled “Shots fired!” a total of four times and yelled “I’m hit!” twice. He emptied his weapon firing at the patrol vehicle and told investigators he stopped firing because he managed to find cover.

“Um, the, the original reason I was firing was because I was sitting in the open there,” he said. “I had only moved a couple feet from where I felt I had just been shot from the back of this patrol car. Um, and I didn’t know how I was gonna get up and move to that covered area where that, that vehicle was the closest cover I could see. Um, so yeah, once I got behind that vehicle, I didn’t observe any rounds coming back at me. Um, I felt safe behind that vehicle. I felt I didn’t need to engage anymore.”

That quote is from a former sheriff’s deputy who kept shooting his gun not because someone was actively shooting at him, but because he was out in the open and afraid.

Imagine how the people without guns feel when trigger-happy cops are around.

In a Feb. 7 post on Facebook, Marquis Jackson wrote about the experience, saying he had to “lean over and play dead to prevent getting shot in the head.”

“I was scared to death and I knew all I could depend on was God!  I ignored everything and prayed! Windows were shattering on me the whole time as bullets continued flying across me. I was blessed not to get hit by any bullets or get hurt physically but mentally, I’m not ok.  I haven’t been the same since and I don’t think this feeling I have will ever change.”

Jackson went on to further explain how deputies continued to treat him like he had done something wrong in the shooting, including pulling him from the vehicle and slamming him on the ground as they searched him again. He said that he was taken into custody but no officer could tell him what he was being arrested for. Their only answer, according to him, was “we’re waiting for more info.”

According to the investigation report, Hernandez did not learn he had not been shot until he got to the hospital. He also seemed shocked to learn that what he thought was a gunshot was actually an acorn hitting the top of his car.

All of this is ridiculous and dangerous at the same time.

A deputy with no prior law enforcement experience and who had been on the job for less than two years began wildly firing his gun because he got scared by a noise.

Law enforcement officers are supposed to be the “trained professionals,” but they are jumpier than the civilians they encounter in everyday situations.

Everyday citizens are expected to remain calm and composed when dealing with law enforcement, but law enforcement officers are able to be triggered by any and everything as long as they can say they feel “threatened.”

In this case, Hernandez was clearly “threatened” by “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers” or Mother Nature or whatever, and because of that, he seriously endangered the life of an unarmed Black man who had not yet been arrested or charged with a crime. He was simply being detained in the backseat of a patrol car.

Ultimately, it was determined that Hernandez had used excessive force, but he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, because as previously noted, as long as they can say they feared for their life, the excessive force is excused.

Sheriff Aden wrote in his statement “We are very thankful Mr. Jackson wasn’t injured and we have no reason to think former Deputy Hernandez acted with any malice. Though his actions were ultimately not warranted, we do believe he felt his life was in immediate peril and his response was based off the totality of circumstances surrounding this fear. Just as we have an obligation to protect our officers so they can go home safely to their families, law enforcement has the same obligation to any citizen being investigated for a crime.”

Mm hmm.

Since Hernandez was able to resign and not be fired, how long before his scary ass ends up at another law enforcement job?

How long before he endangers the life of someone else?

How long before we as a society realize the police potentially cause more harm than they prevent?

This is getting old.