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Sheriff blasts 'misinformation campaign' by 'anti-police fringe,' defends use of force in arrest of suspected drug dealer on probation who ran from cops
Image source: Jacksonville (Fla.) Sheriff's Office, composite

Sheriff blasts 'misinformation campaign' by 'anti-police fringe,' defends use of force in arrest of suspected drug dealer on probation who ran from cops

The sheriff of Jacksonville, Florida, blasted the "misinformation campaign" by the "anti-police fringe" and defended the use of force during last week's arrest of a suspected drug dealer who ran from cops and appeared to resist them, even after getting hit with a taser.

What are the details?

A passerby recorded cellphone video of Le’Keian Woods' arrest, which showed numerous officers using force to gain control of him, including slamming his head into the ground; the video also showed Woods' swollen face after he was handcuffed.

Jacksonville police release report, booking photo of man accusing officers of brutalityyoutu.be

Since then, the suspect’s attorney called for a federal investigation of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and accused Sheriff T.K. Waters of a cover-up, the Associated Press reported.

But Waters ripped detractors after bodycam video of the arrest was shown during a Monday news conference:

"So, it's pretty unbelievable, disheartening, to have to announce that social media is not reality. Its content is not fact-checked by any entity. Because of this misinformation campaign by the anti-police fringe, our agency has come under fire, and individual detectives' lives have been threatened. This intentionally misguiding manipulation of facts is wrong and dangerous, and I will not remain silent while the truth is buried to advance a particular agenda. The truth is Woods sustained facial injuries when he fled from police and was tased [and] fell face-first onto the concrete. Detectives struggled with him, and as I stated before, they used strikes to ... gain control, but he continued to resist arrest. The outcome of Woods' apprehension contrast[s] with that of his friends in the truck who immediately complied with police and suffered no physical injury. Force looks ugly, as I stated before, because all force is ugly, not because the detectives engaged in misconduct. And based on the currently available information, the agency believes that the involved detectives acted appropriately with respect to the law and [sheriff's office] policy."

Here's the video of the news conference. Bodycam video showing the traffic stop, chase, and Woods' arrest begins at the 7:49 mark:

Waters and Mike Shell, his assistant chief for public accountability, said officers knew Woods had been accused of murder at one time, was on probation for armed robbery, and had been connected to firearms and drug trafficking when they chased him after the traffic stop, the AP reported.

Woods was being held Monday at the Jacksonville jail, the outlet added. Woods has been on probation after pleading no contest to a 2017 Tallahassee robbery in which he and his roommate tried to rob a marijuana dealer at gunpoint, the AP noted, citing court records.

The dealer pulled his own gun and fatally shot the roommate as Woods fled, the outlet also said, adding that Woods originally was charged with second-degree murder over his roommate’s death, but a plea bargain was reached last year that released him without prison time.

In the wake of Friday's arrest, Woods is charged with resisting arrest with violence, armed trafficking in cocaine and methamphetamine, and other felonies, the AP noted.

Suspect's lawyer pushes back

Harry Daniels, Woods’ attorney, said he'll ask the Justice Department to investigate law enforcement's use of force, the outlet reported.

“It’s unfortunate that the sheriff believes the beating of an unarmed man is justified,” Daniels said, according to the AP. “It is obvious that he is complicit and an enabler of clear misconduct by his officers. It is not surprising that [the sheriff’s office] didn’t find any misconduct because they investigate themselves.”

Daniels also said there was no legal reason to stop the truck Woods was in and that his client wasn't resisting arrest; rather, he was trying to protect himself from an unlawful beating, the outlet said.

“Any man who is getting a beating is going to resist that beating, or he is going to get killed,” Daniels said, according to the AP.

Anything else?

Detective Josue Garriga assisted in Woods' arrest and said in a report that he kneed Woods in the head and shoulders, the outlet also noted.

The AP reported the following: "In 2019, Garriga shot a man in a traffic stop over an unbuckled seat belt, according to public records. Prosecutors found the shooting was justified, and a lawsuit filed by the dead man’s family was later settled for an undisclosed amount, federal court records show. Daniels was the family’s attorney."

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