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Dec. 14, 2009 — Jacksonville

Around 3 a.m., Neil Southerland, 30, was in a slow-speed chase with deputies.

Southerland, 30, who was suspected of vandalizing his girlfriend's car, was also driving erratically and believed to be drunk.

Officials said that he stopped twice. The first time, he rammed the pursuing deputies car and drove off. The second time, Southerland backed his truck and trailer, loaded with a riding lawnmower, up onto the hood of an occupied cruiser. Read more

He refused to turn off the engine and deputies struggled to pull him from the truck.

Sgt. Jimmy Carey told the two deputies to back away and then threatened to shoot if Southerland did not turn off the engine. Southerland continued to press on the accelerator.

Carey fired seven shots, striking Southerland six times. He died at the scene.

An autopsy determined that Southerland's blood-alcohol level was nearly four times over the legal limit. He also had a trace of marijuana in his system.

Carey was exonerated by the state attorney's investigation but a sheriff's review board suggested he undergo additional training in tactics and communication with subordinates.

In 1999, Carey killed an 18-year-old shoplifter during a struggle over his service weapon, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Southerland's family, which has disputed nearly every claim by the sheriff's office, sued the department and Carey. A U.S. district court judge found in favor of the officers.

This was the 125th police shooting in Florida in 2009.

One day earlier, two officers shot one person in Miami .

Five days later, one officer shot one person in Jacksonville .

4 ways this case compares to others

  1. Southerland did not immediately comply with police instruction, a factor in nearly a quarter of shootings.
  2. Southerland was shot after resisting arrest. A total of 114 people were shot while resisting arrest.
  3. Southerland was drinking alcohol before being shot. That’s true in about 10 percent of police shootings.
  4. A civil lawsuit was filed in response to Southerland's shooting. Ninety other cases led to lawsuits.

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