March 26, 2010 — Jacksonville
Jeremiah Mathis had just robbed a bank.
Lt. Jesse York, who was working off-duty, saw him walking away with something under his shirt. When York yelled at him, Mathis, 31, started running toward a nearby Wendy's, revealing a gun.
At the Wendy's drive-thru, Mathis forced his way into a car, occupied by a mother and her two children, officials said. The woman and Mathis struggled, and Mathis lost hold of the gun. Read more
When York heard Mathis say he would shoot the woman, he fired twice at Mathis from behind him and twice at the car's tires.
Officer Ryan Black and Darries Griffith, a recruit, were standing in front of the Wendy's. Thinking the shot they heard was from Mathis' gun, they opened fire at the car from the front and passenger side.
Mathis told the woman to drive. She tapped the gas, and the car moved forward into a street. Black continued firing as the car moved. The car stopped at the opposite curb, and Mathis began to get out of the car.
Despite orders to show his hands, Mathis kept one hand hidden, and Black fired again. Officers Jason Lederman and Richard Santoro, Jr., who were in the street, also fired four shots each. As the car was moving, Lederman saw the children inside and told everyone to stop shooting, which Griffith did. Mathis was shot 13 times and died at the scene. The woman, Joann Cooper, 35, was hit in the foot. Her 2-year-old son was hit in his arm and chest. They both survived. Her 7-year-old daughter was not injured.
The state attorney cleared the five officers of criminal wrongdoing, but a sheriff's review board told the department to conduct an internal investigation into Black and Griffith, who they said should not have fired so many times, should have been aware that their background was the plate-glass window of the Wendy's and should have realized civilians were in the car. In November, internal affairs officials ruled that Black and Griffith did not use reasonable caution, and the officers resigned.
Cooper's lawsuit against the sheriff was scheduled for trial in July, 2017.
This was the 22nd police shooting in Florida in 2010.
Two days earlier, one officer shot one person in Winter Garden .
Four days later, one officer shot one person in Tarpon Springs .
5 ways this case compares to others
- Cooper and Crichton were two of 18 innocent bystanders shot by police. Some of them were hostages.
- Officers shot 42 bullets. The average was eight.
- Mathis was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
- Mathis was suspected of being involved in an armed robbery. That's true in 1 of every 9 police .
- A civil lawsuit was filed in response to Cooper and Crichton's shooting. Ninety other cases led to lawsuits.