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Lawyer: Witnesses say FAMU student was fatally shot by 'rookie' police officer for legally owned gun

Posted at 7:30 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 19:30:19-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The family of a FAMU student who was shot and killed by an officer in Jacksonville is hiring attorneys in hopes of getting clear answers about what happened.

Jamee Johnson, 22, was shot four times during a traffic stop in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says it happened after an altercation during a traffic stop Saturday night.

Deputies say they pulled over Johnson and when they noticed he had a gun, asked him to get out of the car.

That's when they say a struggle happened. Johnson is accused of hopping back into his car, reaching for a gun in the front seat and accelerating his car toward one of the officers.

The officer, identified by First Coast News as J. Garriga, then shot Johnson four times.

Now, the family has enlisted the help of civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt to get clarity as to what happened. Merritt says Johnson, a senior business major at FAMU who was set to graduate in spring 2020, had no criminal history and legally owned the gun.

"Witnesses state that he was outside of his vehicle after informing law enforcement of his legally owned firearm," Merritt wrote in a social media post. "Dash/Body cam footage of the incident has not been made readily available."

Merritt says Tallahassee civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump has also agreed to join him in representing Johnson's family.

"We demand answers. We will be conducting an independent and thorough investigation into this officer involved shooting and pressing for criminal and civil accountability," Merritt wrote.

Johnson's friends, like his family, say they want to see what happened for themselves.

"I don't believe that the story they're putting out there because it was legally in his name. He has no criminal record. He has no reason to do the actions they're saying he done," said Cromer.

While they wait for that video and justice for their friend, the group thinks on what they'll miss the most from him.

His family doesn't live in the area. They hope to come here and plan a vigil in his honor later this week.