JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Attorneys for the family of a Jacksonville man whose forceful arrest went viral and prompted accusations of police brutality said they sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding that the agency investigate the arrest and other issues at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The attorneys characterized the arrest of Le’Keian Woods as unnecessarily violent.
The statements came after JSO released the police body-worn camera video of his arrest.
On Monday, Sheriff T.K. Waters said his officers acted in accordance with their training when they took Woods into custody following a suspected drug deal.
MORE: Jacksonville sheriff releases body cam video of viral arrest to shed light, combat accusations against JSO
But attorneys said JSO’s public release of the body-camera video during a Monday news conference wasn’t totally transparent because it didn’t show the entire interaction between detectives and Woods.
They also said there was no justification to brutally punch Woods to take him into custody even if he was resisting. The attorneys characterized JSO as an “orchard full of bad apples” and said they are taking their accusations to DOJ. They hope the demand will lead to the FBI arresting the officers who subdued Woods last Friday.
Attorney Harry Daniels said the JSO Gang Unit has a history of stopping people “on pretexts to assault and terrorize them.” He said what the officers used on Woods was “deadly force,” in a situation where, after Woods had been tasered, there was no justification for any force.
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Attorneys said Woods is now out of the hospital, but his face is still swollen and he can’t see very well. He has headaches, dizzy spells, a ruptured kidney, and can’t keep any food down. The lawyers say all he’s getting in jail is ibuprofen and Vaseline for his injuries.
The attorneys also responded to claims made by Waters that some of the video that circulated on social media showing the arrest was altered. Daniels said Woods’ defense team didn’t alter any video and they have no control over what other people might’ve done.
Attorney Marwan Porter also called JSO on that point, and said what JSO has done is provide partial transparency, not full transparency. He said what the officers did to Woods was a “UFC ground and pound beatdown by trained professionals, allegedly.”
Porter said police can’t raise the past to justify actions in the present. That was to counter what Waters said Monday, that force was needed because the officers knew they were dealing with a convicted felon who might be armed. Porter added that officers “tried to kick in his skull,” and are now trying to “whitewash” the investigation through the charges filed against Woods, which include armed trafficking in methamphetamine, armed trafficking in cocaine, armed possession of a controlled substance, resisting an officer with violence, altering, destroying, concealing or removing records, and possessing a controlled substance without a prescription.
Woods is charged with armed trafficking, but there’s no mention of a gun being recovered. Waters alleged that Woods passed a gun that was in his possession to another passenger inside the truck he was riding in.
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