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Family Of Dead Suspect Who Shot A Cop In The Face Questions If Killing Was Justified

Jacksonville, FL – A Jacksonville police officer was shot in the face while investigating a burglary on Friday night, according to investigators.

Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said the series of events leading to the shooting began at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 20, when the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) received a report of a burglary at a residence, FOX News reported.

“The officers were following up on that burglary, and at about 6:30 p.m., they located a suspect and a suspect’s vehicle at the 1800 block of Hardee Street,” Sheriff Waters said.

The location was just two blocks away from the scene of the burglary, FOX News reported.

Officers approached the vehicle and noticed the burglary suspect sleeping in the back seat, according to the sheriff.

They then made contact with someone inside the house where the vehicle was parked and confirmed the suspect was the person inside the parked vehicle, FOX News reported.

Sheriff Waters said officers tracked some of the items stolen in the burglary to the residence where the suspect was found.

Those items included an electronic device and a bicycle, according to WJXT.

They also noticed a handgun sitting on the roof of the suspect’s vehicle, so they seized it and developed a plan to make contact with him, according to the sheriff.

“They made a plan to open the door, not go inside, and have a conversation with him [the male suspect],” Sheriff Waters said, according to FOX News.

The sheriff said the officers asked the suspect to show his hands seven or eight times and told him to get out of the vehicle, but he refused.

The suspect allegedly told the officers not to point their flashlights in his face, then shot at them “for an unknown reason,” according to Sheriff Waters.

The single bullet fired by the suspect hit an officer, grazing the left side of the officer’s face, FOX News reported.

“Officers returned fire – all five of them – striking [the suspect] several times,” Sheriff Waters said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect has been identified as 39-year-old Leon Burroughs, WJXT reported.

The officer who was wounded in the attack was rushed to a local hospital and is expected to recover, Sheriff Waters said.

“I am fortunate that we didn’t lose an officer tonight,” the sheriff told reporters, according to FOX News. “People think it’s a cliché that officers just want to go home safely every night, but there’s no further testament like what happened tonight.”

He said he is “grateful” that all five officers are safe and alive, FOX News reported.

Investigators said they recovered two guns from the scene – the one that had been sitting on top of the suspect’s car, and the one Burroughs used in the attack, according to WJXT.

Burrough’s family denounced the officer-involved shooting and declared the officers’ use of force against him was unjust, WJXT reported.

“He was a good person,” the suspect’s father, Charlie, told the news outlet. “He would do anything for you.”

Burrough’s grandmother, Jewel Hill, said the shooting occurred outside her home and that she was the one who confirmed Burrough was in the car when police came to her door and asked her about him.

Hill said she heard the gunfire, but that she didn’t see if Burrough was the one who fired first, WJXT reported.

“Show me that my son shot at y’all first for y’all to kill him like that,” Charlie said.

The suspect’s family said they are planning to get a lawyer because they don’t believe Burrough would ever shoot someone, according to WJXT.

They have demanded bodycam footage of the incident be released, and said they would accept the reality of whatever the footage reveals.

The JSO said the video will be released within 21 days of the incident, WJXT reported.

The Florida State Attorney’s Office and the JSO are handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.

The officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, as per policy, FOX News reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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