The Southern Christian Leadership Council is speaking out because a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was reinstated after a fatal shooting that occurred in May 2012.
Officer Jeff Edwards was originally fired by Sheriff Rutherford for his involvement in the shooting death of 35-year-old Davinian Williams. Edwards fired his weapon seven times during a traffic stop on the Arlington Expressway. Edwards said he thought Williams was reaching for his gun, but no weapon was found in the car.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that Edwards is currently off the streets and assigned to desk duty, but the SCLC told Channel 4 that’s not good enough.
The Local SCLC president told Channel 4 that arbitrators have been wrong in the past and if Edwards won’t resign, the SCLC would consider protesting outside Edwards' home.
“If he’s not big enough to say he’s done something wrong, not apologized, then that means he’ll do it again and his neighbors need to know that,” said Local SCLC President Opio Sokoni. “Obviously he didn’t make a sudden aggressive move to drop a gun because he didn’t have a gun.”
Channel 4 spoke with Edwards' lawyer Wednesday night. Attorney Tad Delegal told Channel 4 that Edwards was justified in how he handled the situation with Williams.
Williams was driving out of a known drug area and Delegal said Williams refused to show his hands when officers told him to do so.
“You had a suspect coming out of a high drug area at 2 a.m. He stopped alongside a vacant building," said Delegal. "There’s video of this officer trying to get compliance for 90 seconds, which is an eternity at 2 a.m. And this guy just wouldn’t show his hands, he just refused to do so, he was stashing drugs under his seat the whole time."
“When certain officers are in certain neighborhoods, this is how you ultimately get," said Sokoni. "Any type of movement becomes a gun, or somehow they fear for their lives. If you were in Mandarin, I don’t think he would have felt that way.”