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A Florida Sheriff is defending his officers after a video showing Jacksonville police violently arresting a Black man went viral online, sparking national outrage. 

According to News4JAX, Sheriff T.K. Waters claims the arrest of Le’Keian Woods, 24, was justified and says the rush to judgment by the public caused people to reach “faulty and dangerous conclusions.”

The video, which was captured by a bystander on Friday, shows Jacksonville officers detaining and arresting Le’Keian Woods after a traffic stop.

But Sheriff Waters said during a press conference Monday that a portion of the video was “intentionally altered” to drive a wedge between the community and the police. Waters also released body camera footage that he claims shows his officers were justified in their violent arrest of Woods. 

According to the police report, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit was conducting undercover surveillance in the San Jose area when they came across Woods. The truck that Woods was the passenger in was pulled over by police who claimed there was suspicion of a drug deal but admitted they used the seat belt violation as justification for the stop. JSO says the vehicle kept driving “as if the occupants were looking for a place to run.”

After the truck eventually stopped, Woods allegedly jumped out of the front passenger seat and ran through an apartment complex. When officers caught Woods they tased him twice before Woods fell face-first onto the pavement. JSO then claims Woods started to “violently resist” a detective’s attempts to arrest him.

The police report states that one detective hit Woods five times in the face and once in the ribs, while another kneed him four times in the ribs and face. One of the detectives involved in the incident claims there were “unintentional knee strikes to Le’Keian’s face during the struggle.”

“There was force used by arresting officers and yes, that force is ugly,” said Waters during the press conference. “But the reality is that all force, all violence is ugly. But just because force is ugly does not mean it is unlawful or contrary to (agency) policy.” He said all the officers remain on the street “where they belong.”

But Le’Keian Woods’ cousin DeQuan told News4JAX that he was more concerned about how Woods was treated after he was handcuffed and detained. 

“My thing is I don’t want to speak on nothing but the fact of after,” said DeQuan. If they arrested him and he did do anything wrong and they’re doing it…once they put him in handcuffs. My thing is after you detain a man, where is it OK that once he’s detained you’re beating him like a dog?”

The family recently hired civil rights attorney Harry Daniels “to fight for justice” in the incident.  

Daniels says officers had no legal reason to stop Woods and that he will petition the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Woods’ beating.

“It’s unfortunate that the sheriff believes the beating of an unarmed man is justified,” Daniels told AP. “It is obvious that he is complicit and an enabler of clear misconduct by his officers. It is not surprising that (the sheriff’s office) didn’t find any misconduct because they investigate themselves.”

According to USA Today, Le’Keian Woods was charged with armed traffic of methamphetamine, armed traffic of cocaine, armed possession of a controlled substance, resisting an officer with violence and violation of probation.

A news conference has been set for Tuesday, Oct. 3, in front of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 2 p.m.


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