More Questions in Police Shooting; the Sheriff's Office Is Investigating What Led Officer to Use Deadly Force

By Schoettler, Jim | The Florida Times Union, December 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

More Questions in Police Shooting; the Sheriff's Office Is Investigating What Led Officer to Use Deadly Force


Schoettler, Jim, The Florida Times Union


Byline: JIM SCHOETTLER

It started as a vandalism call, became a wild police chase and ended with a veteran officer killing a Jacksonville man after firing seven shots into his stopped truck.

More questions than answers arose Tuesday in the death of Neil Southerland, 30, with authorities saying it will be some time before details are released about why Sgt. Jimmy T. Carey shot him.

This is at least the second police shooting involving Carey. He killed an 18-year-old shoplifter in 1999 during a struggle over his service weapon, a Times-Union story shows. Carey shot James D. Jackson Jr. three times during a fight outside Jackson's girlfriend's home. Jackson had stolen a $1.39 pack of cigarettes and was tracked down by Carey, who injured his knee in the struggle. There is no record of Carey receiving discipline.

In Monday's shooting, Southerland's angry father said he believes his son feared going to jail for vandalizing a vehicle and didn't mean to harm anyone as he drove to within a minute of his father's home. A union official representing the sergeant, an 18-year veteran, said it appears Carey acted properly to protect himself and other officers.

Carey confronted Southerland after he backed his truck and trailer twice into a police car. Police and prosecutors are trying to determine if Carey, 41, legally fired after the confrontation with police "escalated," according to Chief Rick Graham of the Sheriff's Office.

Graham did not describe the escalation, saying that investigators have yet to talk with Carey.

"We're not sure what he was thinking, what he saw that caused him to go to deadly force," Graham said. "That will come out."

It's unclear how many times Southerland was shot. Graham said Southerland did not have a gun, though it was unclear if there were any other weapons found.

Southerland's father, Don Southerland, said his son died around the corner from his home. He said he believes his son knew police would jail him for the vandalism and didn't want them to impound his truck, which he used in his lawn maintenance business.

"It's totally uncalled for," Southerland, 56, said of the shooting.

The Coastal Police Benevolent Association represents Carey. Spokesman Mike Scudiero said there is no reason to believe that Carey acted improperly.

"Based on what we know so far in this case, there was a physical exchange between the two and at some point Sgt. Carey did what he had to do to protect himself and his fellow officers," Scudiero said.

A police board will determine if Carey followed Sheriff's Office policy and procedure if no laws were broken. He has been put on administrative leave as a routine measure.

The shooting occurred shortly before 3 a. …

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