Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says use of force justified in Le’Keian Woods arrest: Officers ‘acted appropriately’

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says use of force justified in Le’Keian Woods arrest: Officers ‘acted appropriately’

Scott Butler

Thao Nguyen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida law enforcement agency believes its officers “acted appropriately” in response to a suspected drug deal involving Le’Keian Woods, the Black man captured in a viral video handcuffed with swollen eyes and a bloody face over the weekend.

On Monday, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released an arrest report and critical incident briefing detailing what led up to the arrest of Woods, 24, and the reasons for the physical tactics used. Woods’ arrest on Sept. 29 had been recorded by a bystander, where he was seen surrounded by officers in a suspected incident of excessive use of force.

Civil rights attorney Harry Daniels, who was hired by Woods’ family, has said Woods was beaten by multiple officers after being pulled over for an alleged seat belt violation.

In the briefing on Monday, Chief of Professional Standards Mike Shell said Woods had sustained facial injuries when he fled from members of the agency’s gang unit who attempted to arrest him after “witnessing him conducting a drug transaction.”

“Based on the currently available information, the agency believes that the involved detectives acted appropriately with respect to the law and (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office) policy,” Shell said in the briefing.

The incident remains under administrative review but has since gained national attention, sparking online outrage and local protest. Woods’ family is also demanding justice over the incident.

“The previously released video showed uniformed and plain clothes officers repeatedly assaulting Woods, striking him and slamming his head into the ground even after he was handcuffed… the kind of unrestrained violence depicted in the video is absolutely unacceptable,” Daniels said on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.

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Arrest report: Le’Keian Woods struck 17 times by Jacksonville officers

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released Woods’ booking photo and arrest report Monday, which includes some redactions due to Florida’s privacy laws.

On the afternoon of Sept. 29, the agency’s gang unit was conducting undercover surveillance, according to the report. Detectives were wearing tactical vests in unmarked police vehicles equipped with emergency lights and sirens.

The report said Detective J. Garriga was stationed in a gas station parking lot when he observed a driver of a gray Dodge Durango parked at a gas pump. A short time later, a gray Dodge Ram arrived with three people inside.

A Black male, whom Garriga identified as Woods, exited the passenger seat of the Dodge Ram and talked to the driver of the Dodge Durango, according to the report. The detective noted Woods’ pants were weighing heavy on the right side and notified other detectives that Woods was believed to be armed.

Woods then got into the back seat of the Dodge Durango and began counting money, the report said. The driver from the Durango stood by, and Garriga heard the man say, “Hold on, we are handling business.”

The report added that Garriga noted the driver wasn’t using a seatbelt when the occupants of the Ram began backing out of the parking lot. Garriga notified the other detectives that the Ram was on the move and detectives B. Daigle and H. Sullivan followed the Ram in their unmarked police vehicles.

Daigle attempted to initiate a traffic stop but the driver of the Ram didn’t stop and instead drove to a dead end of an apartment complex driveway, according to the report. Daigle and Sullivan attempted to conduct a “high-risk takedown” at that location.

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As Daigle was giving commands to the occupants, the report said Woods fled from the front passenger seat through the apartment complex. Sullivan chased after Woods, who refused to stop, prompting Sullivan to deploy his conducted energy weapon.

It appeared to have no effect, so Sullivan fired a second set of probes successfully, according to the report. But Woods began to “violently resist” the detective’s attempt to take him into custody. It then took three detectives and a patrol officer to get Woods into handcuffs.

Woods was struck 17 times by responding detectives and officers during his arrest, according to the report. 

Le’Keian Woods faces several charges, police say

Following Woods’ arrest, rescue personnel arrived to treat him and he was transported to a local hospital.

The report said the two other passengers of the Ram were detained. One was released at the scene after being interviewed and the other was charged with being a habitual traffic offender, possession under 20 grams of marijuana and traffic violations.

Woods was charged with resisting arrest with violence, armed trafficking cocaine, armed trafficking amphetamine, armed possession of a controlled substance, tampering with evidence and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.

The report’s only reference to an actual gun stated that part of the tampering charge was for giving the firearm to one of the other individuals. It also lists six types of drugs seized.

On Monday, Shell said Woods’ actions before and during the Sept. 29 incident led to his arrest.

According to Shell, Woods has been recorded in drill rap videos with documented group and gang members. In 2018, Woods was arrested for murder in connection to a homicide in Tallahassee, Florida.

He had also pled guilty in 2022 to “an amended robbery charge pertaining to that murder arrest and is currently on probation,” Shell said.

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