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Jacksonville Injury Lawyers

SELECTED 2013-2020

Martinezz Bowman v. Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (Florida): Unlawful use of Police Force

Mr. Bowman is represented by Phillips & Hunt. A notice of intent to file a lawsuit has been served on Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the related governing entities. It is attached.

Video of incident from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office: https://youtu.be/yXmqPOtnsAc.

Description of Incident: On or about October 23, 2020, two Columbia County Sheriff’s Officers aggressively pursued a vehicle which allegedly had “no taillights completely blacked out from the rear,” according to Offense Report CCS0200FF004559. Officers travelled at an excessive rate of speed to pursue the vehicle. Ultimately, the police report on these issues proved to be false, as the brake lights and turn signals clearly work. 

Instead of pulling over on a two-lane dark road, Mr. Bowman drove a few seconds at an admittedly low rate of speed to his neighborhood and home. He was afraid for his life, given the recent police encounters involving African American males. 

For no justifiable reason, the officers decided to consider this a “felony stop”, came out with their guns in the air, and yelled at Mr. Bowman. The video speaks for itself. 

Instead of giving the benefit of the doubt, K-9 Officer David Alan Harvey says, “He’s probably gonna try to bail.” You can hear a police dog in the back barking, panting, frothing, obviously in an excited state. The white car then stopped, and the police cruiser parked so you cannot see the subsequent activity. Officer Harvey later admits on video, “He started to hit Mr. Bowman with his car.” This would have also been illegal use of force. 

Officer Harvey indicates “multiple loud warnings” in the report. What can be heard is immediate, unwarranted aggression. Mr. Bowman simply repeatedly wants one question answered, “Are you going to shoot me?” Officer Harvey refuses to respond to this question and yells commands, which all seem to be followed despite Mr. Bowman’s fright. 

Mr. Bowman can be heard asking his neighbors to record the incident and repeatedly trying to make sure he wasn’t going to get shot. Neither officer ever responded, at all, to these questions or his concerns. Officer Harvey just keeps yelling commands. Mr. Bowman notices a laser gun site on his body and again feels like he is going to get shot and asks the officers to come get him because, again, his concern was getting shot. 

He asks why he’s being detained and why he’s being detained at gunpoint. The officers ignore his inquiries. All of Officer Harvey’s commands were seemingly followed and his “last warning” wasn’t even completed before he lets his dog go attack Mr. Bowman. Mr. Bowman’s last words before being mauled by the K9 Drago was that it was “disrespectful” to aim guns at him without explaining what he did wrong. It is also negligent and a violation of his civil rights. 

The victim was unarmed, not any threat to the officers or others, and was simply trying to negotiate a peaceful communication or arrest without getting shot and killed over tail lights which were, unknowingly, not on. 

The Victim screams out repeatedly, and the officers do nothing. Officer J. Ghode still keeps her gun pointed at the Victim. The Victim begs for help. Both officers ignore the cries and pleas. For a long time, the dog kept attacking the Victim and chewed his leg nearly to the bone. Instead of attempting to understand the plight of this young, black male, Officer Harvey goes over to the two witnesses, now handcuffed, and leads them into his narrative and said, “It’s TV. It’s all these on TV. That’s what I was gonna… Everybody wants (stops speaking).” The officers then “interview” the witnesses. 

No arrest was made or charges filed. Mr. Bowman plans to sue for damages and a violation of his civil rights.