Controversy after downtown employee emails mayor complaint against JSO

JSO officer accused of turning down opportunity to help

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An employee at a restaurant downtown emailed Mayor Lenny Curry with allegations that a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office patrol officer neglected to answer their call for help earlier this month.

JSO denies the officer accused was ever there.

First Coast News uncovered a thread of emails about the incident between a witness and the mayor, in which the mayor says he’s taking the situation straight to Sheriff Mike Williams.

The witness who sent the email to Mayor Curry is an employee at Chamblin’s Uptown bookstore.

She says on April 1, a homeless woman was going up and down Laura Street punching several pedestrians in the face. She says one of her co-workers was a victim. As it was unfolding they noticed an officer in uniform walking by and they walked to the Jimmy Johns next door to ask for his help, but she says he declined, saying he was busy.

In her email to the mayor, she wrote in all caps “WE HAD NO RESPONSE!!!!” and went on to say the officer’s response “was that he was off, going to work a baseball game and unless it was a murder, he had to go.”

On that day, there was indeed an event at the Baseball Grounds down the street. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp hosted a Shrimp and Suds Craft Beer Festival from 3 until 6 that evening.

The mayor responded to her emails saying, “I will come by to see you. I just spoke with Sheriff Williams and shared your email with him. He will be in touch. I will make sure this gets the attention it deserves.”

The employee behind the emails spoke with First Coast News on Thursday, but declined to make any comments or go on camera, since she says she’s waiting to speak with the mayor first.

However, the owner of the restaurant next door did want to speak to us about the problem.

“It’s been a problem before,” said Kathy Desclefs, the owner of The Magnificat Café. She says a similar incident happened last summer.

“Someone was going around hitting people in the face, they didn’t arrest them, they just asked them to leave,” Desclefs said.

She said that one also happened during the day but across the street in Hemming Park. “Someone was going around just punching people in the face.”

She said when officers are around the area seems safer but these kind of incidents seem to be increasing downtown, creating an unsafe environment.  

“We have a bad homeless problem downtown and the majority of them are mentally ill,” she said.

In response to the allegations, JSO tells First Coast News the officer mentioned in the emails was not in the area that day and was not working, but they have handed the case over to JSO Director Michelle Cook to conduct an internal investigation.

JSO sent us a comment saying they “want to remind citizens who see someone in distress or causing a disturbance to call the police.”

The witness tells us they did call the police that day - twice.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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