Written by Sean Rossman | Democrat staff writer
The blue dot indicates where the shooting took place, while the bold line indicates the city/county line. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over the area above the bold line. / Tallahassee Police Department
A grand jury presentment says Tallahassee police officers knowingly went out of their jurisdiction in January when they pursued a burglary suspect.
In a presentment filed Wednesday, the grand jury said the officers did not call the Leon County Sheriff’s Office to request mutual aid to pursue burglary suspects outside the city limits. Mutual aid is an agreement between the two agencies to operate in the other’s jurisdiction with their authority.
The police department stated they were on a fact-finding mission when looking into a burglary in the area of the 2800 block of Misty Garden Circle, which is just outside of the city limits. They say the “intelligence gathering” was not law enforcement action and was not subject to mutual aid clearance.
The grand jury disagreed.
“We believe TPD was negligent in their failure to comply with the Mutual Aid Agreement. And the result is that a police officer was almost killed and a community was unnecessarily put in danger. TPD should have requested mutual aid before they set foot outside their jurisdiction,” the report read.
On the night of Jan. 12, TPD officers were gathering information on the burglary in the area of 2824 Misty Garden Circle when one of the officers heard a noise coming from that residence. The officer then got in his unmarked police car and drove to the house where a silver car was parked out front and two people stood outside. Soon after he pulled in front of the residence, there were gun shots.
There were 25 rounds fired, with 12 hitting the officer’s car.
The grand jury said no officer ever alerted LCSO that a burglary was in progress in the county, according to the report.
The report also found other procedural violations on behalf of TPD. They found the officer did not initially identify themselves as law enforcement to the victims. They also found TPD’s response to the situation to be “insufficient” due to the month it took to begin an investigation.
The grand jury presentment recommended yearly mutual aid training for TPD officers and for disciplinary measures to be taken against any officer who violates the mutual aid agreement.
Police Chief Dennis Jones issued a statement Thursday saying he initiated the internal investigation Feb. 11. When the investigation is over the police department will consider recommendations made in the report.