Police: Fatal OIS deemed self-inflicted; video released

A man shot himself before deputies opened fire in response, officials said

By Dan Scanlan
The Florida Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The young man shot multiple times by officers after a late Tuesday traffic stop on San Juan Avenue shot himself first, according to the medical examiner and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, which also released body camera video.

The new information and nearly 19-minute video were released Thursday night, showing four officers trying to convince an increasingly emotional Devon Tillman Gregory to pull his right hand out from under the passenger seat.

"This case continues to be investigated, however, we are proactively releasing the body-worn camera footage of the police-involved shooting as a result of the medical examiner advising that the suspect suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound," a brief Sheriff's Office statement said.

The traffic stop, which the Sheriff's Office hasn't specified the violation, began when police pulled over a vehicle with three people inside. The front-seat passenger was "very agitated" during the stop, and as officers tried to calm things down the situation escalated, Chief T.K. Waters said at the time.

"After several minutes of discussion with that subject, the officers ended up firing their service weapons and striking the suspect," Waters said of the 18-year-old. "... A handgun was located in the passenger seat area where the suspect was located."

All four officers were identified as members of a Zone 4 Task Force. In the video, the officers' faces are blurred out, as is the backseat passenger's who may be a juvenile.

One asks if any of them have been smoking anything because he smells marijuana. An officer gets the driver out and frisks him, asking him if there are any weapons inside. When the driver pulls his hands away, the officer handcuffs him.

"Abide by our lawful commands," the officer tells the driver. "That's the way it works, man. So just chill. I don't know if you have a gun you're going to reach for."

As the officer with the featured bodycam moves up, he turns his flashlight on the front-seat passenger, Gregory, as he lights a cigarette.

"Hey, don't reach under there," that officer tells Gregory as another officer yells to "stop f---ing reaching."

"Hey, I'm grabbing my phone," Gregory responds, with a hand still reaching down.

"Let me see your hands," one officer says, telling another to "watch out" and others yell. All have their weapons pointed.

"You are about to get f---ing shot," an officer yells.

"I'm grabbing my phone, please," Gregory says. "Please, please."

Officers yell more for him to show his hands.

"I love you. Tell my mother I love her too," Gregory is heard screaming to the two others he was with, still not raising his hand from the floor.

"Put your hands up or I'm gonna shoot you," an officer exclaims as Gregory continues to say loudly to "tell everyone I love them!"

Repeated efforts are made by the officers to defuse the situation as Gregory yells louder.

"Relax," an officer says. "Hey, it's all right! You'll be fine!"

Gregory again asks that someone tell his mother he loves her and more requests are yelled at him to relax.

"Listen to me. Can I talk," Gregory says to officers, a cellphone seen in his left hand.

"No, you can put your hands up," an officer tells him, to which Gregory repeatedly tells them to "Shoot me, shoot me!"

The officer with the featured body cam says at least three times, "We do not want to shoot you," trying to reassure him. "Why are you tripping," he repeats.

"Let's take this down a notch, bro, I just want to see your hand with nothing in it," the officer says, with another adding, "It's only a traffic stop."

It continues like this for several minutes with the tension ramping up. Gregory even asks if it is a gun he's got, are they just going to let him go. They promise they won't hurt him if he shows them it's not in his hand. He says he doesn't believe them.

At one point Gregory turns to the backseat passenger and pleads with him not to do dumb things in life, that it isn't worth it.

He asks the officers for a favor, to "fall back, just back up a little bit" and to let him talk with his brother who's in the police vehicle.

"Your brother just said, 'Show them your hands,'" an officer tells Gregory almost 17 minutes into the bodycam video of the traffic stop.

Several times throughout the ordeal, Gregory hollers back "No, no" to their repeated orders.

"Why can't you just let us go," Gregory asks.

Then as an officer pulls the back seat passenger from the car with a K-9 itching to do its job, Gregory screams, "My little brother didn't do nothing." He pleads with them, "Please leave me alone! Please! Leave me, leave me," before burying his head between his knees.

One shot is heard, and his head jerks, followed within an instant by a fusillade of shots from the officers' guns before the video ends.

It was the first officer-involved shooting for each of the officers, identified as three-year veterans B.M. Shea and N.C. McDonald, 10-year-veteran A.J. Roe and J.D. Mills with 25 years on the force.

(c)2020 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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