5 Florida Cops Who Fired 125 Rounds to Kill a Black Man Won't Face Charges

Five Florida police officers who riddled a car with 125 rounds and ultimately killed a Black man on April 28 will not face charges, according to a report from the State Attorney's Office on Thursday. The report indicated the officers feared for their lives that night, but the report also did not confirm if the victim ever fired a shot at them.

The Tampa police chief said his officers never want to use deadly force, and meanwhile activists say the whole story of the death of Jonas Joseph, 26, hasn't been brought to light.

"The last thing officers want to do is use deadly force," Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said. "Regardless of the circumstances, we acknowledge the grief of the family and community."

There is no known video from the incident, which includes no dash cam or body cam video from the officers, according to the Tampa Bay Times. There were 118 bullet casings found, all of which matched the rounds from the Tampa cops. No bullet casings were found from the 9mm that Joseph brandished, the firearm that allegedly started the gunfight.

Tampa Cops
Sheriff deputies stand guard as protesters walk past on the first full day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. The Republican party delegates were prepared to affirm Mitt Romney as the party's nominee as the convention began its first full session after the start was delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The story begins with Tampa police identifying a white Chevy Impala that had a license plate matching a drive-by shooting from the previous week. Officers began following the car and called for backup during the process. The white Impala pulled into a fenced-in yard on 35th Street.

According to the report, officers questioned Joseph about the incident, and a nervous-looking Joseph allegedly slammed his car into reverse, crashing into a police car that had pulled in behind him.

An officer smashed the driver-side window, at which point Joseph sped away, the report stated. The police then followed the Impala through backyards in the neighborhood until Joseph crashed into a tree. Seven police officers approached the car to check on the driver, and that's when they saw the driver point a shiny gun at them, which led them to firing upon the car.

The report says all seven officers either saw or heard what they thought were gunshots, which prompted five of them to fire into the car. At that point, Joseph appeared to duck into the backseat.

"It appears that the Impala shielded Joseph from much of the initial gunfire," the report stated.

Investigators determined that Joseph was trying to escape from the driver's-side window when he was fatally shot. Still, no bullet casings were found from Joseph's gun. Just his fingerprints.

"Although a lack of shell casings from Joseph suggests he did not fire his gun, it is equally plausible that casings were simply never located," the State Attorney's report continued. "Even assuming that Joseph did not fire the gun in his hand, his action of pointing a gun at police officers would be enough to establish that the officers were in imminent fear for their lives or the lives of others."

This has not stopped local activists from seeking more answers to a killing that happened a month before that of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25.

Carl Soto, a pastor for the Joseph family, said at a local news conference that with varied stories, it's rather "confusing to test the credibility of law enforcement."

"The stories have changed so much that it's becoming confusing to test the credibility of law enforcement, especially the Tampa Police Department," Soto said.

"We do know for a fact this is murder," said Soto, who is also vice president of Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk, Inc. "They have changed their entire story. The story they're saying now does not make absolutely any sense."

Newsweek queried the Tampa police through its portals, but no response was received before publication. This will be updated with any response.