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Jacksonville Officials Launch Internal Investigation Into Police-Involved Shooting

Ryan Benk
JSO Chief of Investigations Chris Butler addresses reporters Monday

Jacksonville police are trying to determine why an officer shot an unarmed man after a car chase this weekend.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday it’s conducting an internal investigation. But some community activists say that’s not enough and are calling for an independent review of the incident.

Vernell Bing was driving Sunday night when officers flagged his car as stolen and possibly involved in an earlier shooting, said JSO Investigations Chief Chris Butler at a news conference Tuesday.

A 5 minute chase ensued before Bing crashed into Officer T.L. Landerville's police cruiser, he said. Bing then ran from the car in Springfield. Landerville opened fire five times, shooting Bing once in the head.

Butler said Bing didn’t comply with officer’s orders, but Bing was also unarmed.

“I dont know what caused Police Officer Landerville to discharge his weapon at that time. Something caused him to do that. It won't be until a later time when I’ll get a statement from him,” Butler said.

Two civil-rights groups said they have little faith in JSO’s review process. Jacksonville chapters of the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Council are calling for a citizen advisory board. The council's Ben Frazier said internal investigations too often find police shootings to be justified.

“We need an effective police force, but the fact of the matter is there are also bad cops out there and we need to be about the business of weeding them out,”  Frazier said.

Frazier added that witnesses are contradicting police accounts, and Bing was limping away from officers and was shot from behind. Frazier said JSO needs to invest in body cameras, no matter the financial cost.

Update 6:22 pm: Our partners News4Jax report Bing's father says he has died.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.