In Wake of 2 Fatal Shootings, Police Tactics Questioned; Sheriff Says His Officers' Methods Are Working, but Will Look into Incidents

By Hunt, David | The Florida Times Union, January 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

In Wake of 2 Fatal Shootings, Police Tactics Questioned; Sheriff Says His Officers' Methods Are Working, but Will Look into Incidents


Hunt, David, The Florida Times Union


Byline: DAVID HUNT

After police shot to death two men in eight days during separate undercover drug operations, Jacksonville's chief prosecutor said he questions the value of the stings.

"If we're just selling drugs to addicts, I don't know what we're accomplishing," State Attorney Harry Shorstein said. "This could wind up being the tragic death of one kid - arguably a bad kid - and a gentleman who had the right to protect his property."

Authorities are investigating the police shootings that killed Douglas "D.J." Woods III, 18, and Isaac Singletary, 80.

Police say Woods, described by family as a college hopeful who worked at two community centers, was shot dead trying to rob an undercover narcotics officer during a Jan. 20 drug sting at Sable Palms Apartments on Emerson Street. Singletary was killed Saturday - the day of Woods' funeral - after confronting undercover officers that he apparently confused for drug dealers doing their business outside his home.

Sheriff John Rutherford defended the undercover methods, saying police are trying to protect neighborhoods from drug activity. Saturday's sting, which posed undercover officers as drug dealers, netted five arrests, he said. Full details of the bookings were not available Sunday.

Rutherford said he's ready to rethink any investigative weaknesses that surface during the probe of the shooting.

"The tactics we developed are based on years of police experience," he said. "Even if the officers followed procedure, we'll look at this. We're always looking for better ways and safer ways to do our jobs."

On Sunday, police said details of Saturday's shooting remain unclear. Detectives Donald Maynard and James Narcisse have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, authorities said.

Micheal Edwards, director of investigations and homeland security, said it was too early to tell if the plainclothes officers identified themselves as police before the shooting started.

Also, there are varying accounts of how it started. Witnesses and some police accounts indicate Singletary thought the officers were actual drug dealers and that he was trying to remove them from his property with the assistance of a .38 caliber handgun.

Some of Singletary's gunshots hit a tree in the yard, according to police, but none of the officers were hit.

Police said Singletary was shot at least once before going to his backyard, where police shot him again after ordering him to drop his weapon.

PROTECTING HIS TERRITORY

Singletary, whom witnesses initially misidentified as Isaac Evans, is a man people in the neighborhood off Philips Highway know simply as "Pops." He stayed outside most days, sitting in a lawn chair or, if it rained, passing the time inside his dark blue Ford F-150 that remained parked in the driveway Sunday. …

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