John Study wants answers. It's been five
months since the 21-year-old filed a
complaint against a Jacksonville police officer for allegedly ramming him with his personal car and then pulling a police-issued Glock on him, but Study says the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has done nothing more than ask him a few cynical questions during a taped interview.
The JSO did, however, take the complaint seriously enough to reassign the officer, Corinthian Roosevelt Morgan, 46 at the time, to desk duty.
Since then, little has happened, at least as far as Study can tell. (The JSO says its Internal Affairs investigation is ongoing. Even though it has been more than five months since the incident, JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda says department policy allows 180 days to complete an internal investigation. The JSO declined to release any additional information about the case.)
The confrontation occurred during an argument over an open parking space in the 5 Points Publix parking lot in mid-March [News, "Parking War," Derek Kinner, April 9].
"It makes me think that it's to where they want that I just forget about it and say, ‘Oh well,'" Study says. "To me, the longer it's taking, it's like they're trying to sweep it under the rug."
Even Morgan's personal auto insurance company has already acted, agreeing to a five-figure settlement with Study. Even though the settlement agreement contained a disclaimer denying any liability on Morgan's part and precluding any further legal action against him, "What's important here is they admitted something happened," says T.C. Roberts, Study's attorney. "They admitted that there was contact with the vehicle. They admitted something happened and [Morgan] isn't admitting anything happened."
During the initial police investigation, Morgan denied hitting Study with his car or pointing the Glock at Study.
The injury Study suffered from Morgan's Toyota Corolla was serious enough to leave him on crutches for several weeks, due to ligament damage to his knee. Because of the injury, he also lost a new job he had fought hard to get; his fiancée was pregnant and he needed to provide for his new family. The baby, Calvin, was born July 30. Study is still unemployed, mainly because of the injury, he says.
The incident occurred on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Study, his pregnant fiancée, Natalie Fuster, and her parents decided to take advantage of the weather by visiting 5 Points and nearby Memorial Park along the St. Johns River. Many people had the same idea, and parking was hard to come by, so they decided to try the Publix parking lot. After losing out on several open spaces, Study saw one and jumped out of the family's Saturn Vue to stand in it while his future father-in-law pulled around to park.
Morgan also was looking for a parking space; he was meeting his wife, who was parked nearby, for lunch. He quickly went for the spot. He cut off the Fusters' vehicle and tried to back in, then saw Study standing there. Morgan got out of his Toyota and told Study he couldn't save the space. After a brief argument, Morgan got back into his car, gunned the engine and reversed into the spot, striking Study with the vehicle, according to Study.
Study says he then approached Morgan and complained about being hit. Following another argument, Study says, Morgan pulled out a black Glock and flashed it at him, then put it back in the car.
Study says he had no idea Morgan was a police officer because he was in street clothes. But he described the gun to police when they arrived. He says that proves Morgan pulled the gun on him, because he would not have had any idea what the Glock looked like unless he had seen it.
Adding to the circumstantial evidence was Morgan's apparent attempt to hide the fact that he had the gun with him, Study says. Police later said they had to retrieve Morgan's weapon from his wife. He had put the gun in a backpack and given it to her before going into a restaurant. Study says that shows Morgan was trying to cover his tracks.
And though Study told Morgan he was calling police to report the incident, Morgan left the scene. (It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident.) When police arrived, Morgan was in the Sushi Café and came out later to talk to them.
A JSO spokesman told Folio Weekly in an email that Morgan is on administrative duty while the investigation continues.
Study says the insurance settlement won't pay for the surgical repair he needs, or his previous medical bills.
And he's still upset about the JSO's handling of his complaint. He says Internal Affairs investigator Det. C.J. Potter tried to intimidate him during a follow-up interview a couple of months ago.
"He didn't like what I had to say," Study says. "He kept repeating questions over and over. I finally told him the third time, ‘I told you what happened, and I'm not going to keep repeating it over and over. You're recording this, so I will say it one more time. I'm tired of this. You people are accusing me of lying. I knew what kind of gun he had, and I had no clue he was a police officer.'"
(Potter did not return a phone call. Because of the ongoing internal investigation, the tape of that interview is not public.)
Study thinks Morgan is being given preferential treatment because he's a cop.
"I don't feel like this is right," he says. "If it had been me, or another civilian, I would have gotten charged with leaving the scene after hitting a pedestrian and then pulling a gun. I would have gotten in trouble. I don't feel like they did right. It's very unprofessional."
He also questions the Internal Affairs investigation, especially the length of time it has dragged on. Study says he asked Potter how he could expect an objective investigation from one cop investigating another.
"Why would you have the fox watch the henhouse?" Study says he asked Potter.
"He said, ‘We are a completely different division,' but I said, ‘No, you're going to stick up for your people.' They're going to stick up for one another."
Only time will tell. According to JSO policy, the investigation should wrap up next month.