US police officer unleashes hail of bullets on handcuffed black suspect after mistaking falling acorn for gunshot

14 February 2024, 16:04

Cop shoots at unarmed man in Florida after mistaking acorn fall for gunshot

By Will Taylor

This is the moment a Florida police officer opens fire at an unarmed detained black man after he thought the sound of an acorn falling on his car was gunfire.

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Deputy Jessy Hernandez throws himself to the ground, rolls and then pulls out his pistol to fire a hail of bullets into the back of his car in bodycam footage.

He believed Marquis Jackson, who had been searched twice for weapons and was handcuffed, had shot at him.

Hernandez, a two-tour veteran of Afghanistan who saw no combat there, shouts "shots fired" in the clip.

The officer yells to his colleague, Sergeant Beth Roberts, telling her he is hit and was "shot through the car" as he scrambles for cover by a parked car.

Sgt Roberts then fired at the car, forcing Mr Jackson to play dead to avoid being killed.

Bodycam footage showed the moment an acorn fell onto Hernandez's car
Bodycam footage showed the moment an acorn fell onto Hernandez's car. Picture: Police

In the footage, Hernandez tells Sgt Roberts "I'm good" as a person pleads with the officers but is told to "get back".

"It might have hit my vest," he says in the footage, then he retreats to another police unit that arrives at the scene with assault rifles.

Read more: Student gunman, 17, kills child and injures several others in Iowa school shooting

Mr Jackson was not hurt in the shooting but says he has been traumatised. He had been detained on suspicion of stealing his girlfriend's car.

"All I could do was lean over and play dead to prevent getting shot in the head," he said on Facebook.

"I was scared to death and I knew all I could depend on was God! I ignored everything and prayed!

"Windows were shattering on me the whole time as bullets continued flying across me. I was blessed not to get hit by any bullets or get hurt physically but mentally, I'm not ok."

Hernandez said he believed he had been hit and opened fire
Hernandez said he believed he had been hit and opened fire. Picture: Police

Hernandez told an investigator after the incident that he heard a suppressed weapon and he felt an "impact" on his right side.

But he was shown the clip of an acorn hitting his car from his own bodycam.

Read more: Pregnant mother shot dead by US police officer as heartbroken family demand cop is charged

"What I heard sounded what I think would be louder than an acorn hitting the roof of the car, but there's obviously an acorn hitting the roof of the car," he said.

He resigned in December.

Eric Aden, Okaloosa county's sheriff, said his actions "were ultimately not warranted" but "we do believe he felt his life was in immediate peril".

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