JSO says man seen being punched in viral arrest video was involved in possible drug deal, ‘violently’ resisted officers

A video that showed the violent arrest of a Jacksonville man sparked outrage online and a protest against what organizers called a “racial injustice” and accusations of police brutality.

According to the attorney for Le’Keian Woods, 24, his client was beaten by several JSO officers after being pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. His Friday arrest was captured on video by a bystander.

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When the video started to circulate online over the weekend, it wasn’t immediately clear what happened and what led to the man’s arrest, but according to a JSO arrest report released on Monday, the incident started when the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit was conducting surveillance in the San Jose area.

The truck Woods was riding in was pulled over by police because it was believed to be involved in a drug deal, and Woods tried to run from officers before he was arrested, JSO said.

JSO said Woods was the passenger in a Dodge Ram, along with two other people when it was seen parked at a gas station on Powers Avenue. An officer said they saw Woods get into the back of a nearby SUV while it was also parked at the gas station. He then removed money from his pocket and started counting it. The detective who said he witnessed the incident also believed Woods had a gun because his pants were weighing heavy on the right side.

The truck with Woods inside eventually pulled off from the gas station and officers followed in an unmarked vehicle, JSO said, and the driver was seen not wearing a seatbelt.

JSO said detectives tried to pull the truck over a few miles away near Plaza Gate Lane, but it did not stop. JSO said the truck ended up on Kensington Gardens Lane at the dead end of an apartment complex. That’s when JSO said Woods jumped out of the front passenger seat and ran through the complex. JSO said Woods was seen holding onto the front of his waistline during the chase which the pursuing detective believed meant he had a gun.

JSO said a detective eventually caught Woods, told him to get on the ground and twice used a stun gun on Woods before he fell face-first onto the pavement. Woods then started to “violently resist” a detective’s attempts to arrest him, according to JSO.

JSO said it took three detectives and a patrol officer to get Woods into handcuffs.

According to the newly released report, one detective hit Woods five times in the face and once in the ribs. Another kneed him four times in the ribs and face, JSO said, while a bystander captured the incident on video. One of the detectives said in the report there were “unintentional knee strikes to Le’Keian’s face during the struggle.”

Woods’ face was left bloodied and his mug shot showed him with two swollen black eyes.

Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said the incident is under investigation and eventually, body camera footage will be released, which he said will provide context to the incident.

Woods was charged with armed trafficking in methamphetamine, armed trafficking in cocaine, armed possession of a controlled substance, resisting an officer with violence, altering, destroying, concealing or removing records, and possessing a controlled substance without a prescription. Woods is charged with armed trafficking, but there’s no mention of a gun being recovered, and News4JAX has reached out to JSO for more information.

Woods was also on felony probation for robbery.

Statement from Sheriff T.K. Waters:

“Yesterday, JSO officers were involved in an incident near Toledo Road and Powers Avenue in which force was used taking a subject into custody. The agency takes all allegations of inappropriate use of force by JSO officers seriously. As such,… pic.twitter.com/oCNc168BU0

— Jax Sheriff’s Office (@JSOPIO) September 30, 2023

According to Woods’ arrest report, JSO found 43 grams of cocaine powder, 14 grams of crack cocaine, 2.4 grams of fentanyl, 21 grams of meth and four prescription painkillers in the truck he was riding in.

Woods’ attorney appeared in court again Sunday on Woods’ behalf to challenge probable cause on some of the 24-year-old’s counts. After a long discussion, the judge ruled there was no probable cause for the cocaine charge.

When the video surfaced online, organizers called for all officers involved in the incident to be held accountable, a dissolution of the JSO Gang Unit and the implementation of a public safety committee.

MORE: Community advocates rally against JSO for ‘racial injustice’ after viral arrest video of man

Woods’ mother also spoke out at the protest about seeing her son in the viral video being forcefully handled by police.

“When I look at that picture of my son, I felt like Emmitt Till’s mother when she seen her son. He was unrecognizable,” Natassia Woods said.

She said her family plans to fight for justice for her son.

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