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Bizarre Footage Shows Cop Open Fire After Mistaking Acorn for Gunshot


Shocking body-camera footage released this week showed a Florida cop’s dangerous overreaction, in which he dropped, rolled, and unloaded an entire clip from his pistol in the direction of a restrained suspect after mistaking an acorn falling on his patrol car for a gunshot.

Jesse Hernandez, of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in the Florida Panhandle, resigned a month after the incident as his superiors ultimately determined his use of force “was not objectively reasonable.”

Footage of the incident, which occurred in November, surfaced for the first time this week. In it, Hernandez is seen flinging himself to the ground while calling out “shots fired” four times. He does a roll, breaks his sunglasses, and then pulls out his handgun and opens fire at his own patrol car.

Hernandez’s partner, Sergeant Beth Roberts, emerges and opens fire herself after confirming with Hernandez that someone shot at him. Making the situation all-the-more baffling, Hernandez, while firing around 18 shots, was grunting and yelled out to his partner, “I’m hit, oh, I’m hit.”

Moments later, the footage shows him crawl to cover and he claims that he’s been shot through the car. Then, likely realizing he was never shot at all, he tells a frantic Roberts, “I’m good, I feel weird, but I’m good.” He later adds, “It might have hit my vest.”

In reality, Hernandez’s department determined he was never shot at all, as the detained suspect, 22-year-old Marquis Jackson, a Black man, was not armed. Instead, cops said he sat helpless in the back of the patrol car while a barrage of shots were fired at him from Hernandez and Roberts.

Jackson wrote in a lengthy Facebook post that the incident left him “damaged for life,” despite him miraculously not being struck by the officers’ gunfire.

He said he was “scared to death,” and that he leaned over and played dead “to prevent getting shot in the head.”

“Mentally, I’m not OK,” he said. “I haven’t been the same since and I don’t think this feeling I have will ever change.”

Once the officers stopped firing, Jackson said they forced him to show his hands, but he couldn’t raise them as ordered because he was still in handcuffs on allegations he’d stolen his girlfriend’s car. While doing this, he said he was staring down the barrel of an officer’s gun, so he closed his eyes and prayed he’d survive the ordeal.

“I eventually found a way to rest my cuffed hands on the shattered window area to show that I wasn’t armed. A few minutes later they swarmed the car and slammed me on the ground to search me,” he said. “The image I can’t get out of my head is seeing how bad my mom was hurt/crying right before I got into the ambulance.”

Sheriff Eric Aden said in a video statement that he apologized personally to Jackson, his family, and conceded that “we let the public down.”

“I will admit that this was a very tragic and traumatic incident for Mr. Jackson and we are so grateful and thankful that he was not injured,” Aden said.

The department compiled a 44-page report for the incident, which included a nearly second-by-second breakdown of the released footage and partial transcripts of interviews that were conducted with the officers involved.

Those interviews appeared to show that Hernandez was in denial of his department’s findings. Once informed it was determined the noise that set him off was merely an acorn striking his patrol car’s roof, the report said Hernandez refused to watch his own body-camera footage.

Roberts told investigators she only opened fire because Hernandez did so first and she feared he’d been shot. She said his positioning in the middle of the road was particularly troubling—and, in the aftermath, truly puzzling—because police training instructs officers to seek cover in shots-fired situations.

With Hernandez audibly grunting and calling out that he was hit, plus his strange positioning on the road, Roberts said she truly believed Hernandez had been seriously injured.

“I thought I just saw a deputy get murdered,” she said, according to the report. When asked what her feeling was when she heard Hernandez call out that shots were fired, she said she thought, “Shit has hit the fan.”

Roberts will not face any internal punishment for her role in the shooting after the probe determined her response was “objectively reasonable.”

Hernandez was an active deputy in the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office between January 2022 and the incident, which occurred on Nov. 12, 2023. Prior to that, he’d served two tours in Afghanistan but never saw combat.

Jackson said that he was placed in a holding cell for hours after the incident and had his fingerprints taken. He said he was eventually released with no charges filed against him. He did not return interview requests from The Daily Beast.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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