The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office recently released officer body cam footage from a February 2020 police shooting. The release comes in conjunction with the State Attorney’s Officer ruling the Jacksonville police officer justified for shooting 39-year-old John Robert Ritter. The suspect, armed with a large knife, ignored multiple warnings before advancing on the officer, prompting the shooting.
Jacksonville Police Officer Cleared for 2020 Shooting
The incident began when police responded to an alleged armed burglary in progress, reported The Florida Times-Union last year. Police arrived and found an armed Ritter.
“As officers approached, the subject [Ritter] was holding a large butcher knife in his hand and fled the scene on foot,” said T.K. Waters, Sheriff’s Office Chief of Investigations, reported The Florida Times-Union.
Footage shows officers give chase, and Ritter led them to a thick clump of vegetation. Backed into a corner, Ritter seemingly makes his stand. “You better shoot me,” he says repeatedly. That’s when the officer goes for his Taser, but it proved unsuccessful. Footage shows Ritter use a t-shirt to apparently block the Taser nodes from hooking up. He grows even angrier, becoming more threatening to the officer.
“He turned toward the officer. The officer gave loud verbal commands asking him to drop the knife,” Waters said.
Ritter turned toward the officer and began advancing. Finally, after a failed Taser attempt and multiple warnings, the officer fires a single shot, dropping the suspect. Authorities rendered medical aid and transported Ritter to a local hospital in stable condition, reported The Florida Times-Union.
Roger Jones, a local worker on the scene, claimed Ritter approached him and others looking for work. The suspect allegedly made wild threats before police arrived, reported The Florida Times-Union.
Ritter owned a serious criminal record, including convictions for burglary with assault, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, criminal mischief and trafficking in stolen battery, reported News 4 Jax. He added a conviction for burglary and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer for this 2020 incident.
“He was saying how he was going to rob somebody or stick somebody. And he was bound and determined that he was going to get some money. We told him that we didn’t have any money here,” Jones said.