TAMPA, Fla. — Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk held a press conference Wednesday morning in relation to an officer-involved shooting that killed a man in April.
The organization wrote in a release Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan "knowingly and willingly" provided false information regarding the death of Jonas Joseph.
Police say Joseph was shot and killed on April 28 after reversing his car into a cruiser during a traffic stop, crashing into a tree, exiting his vehicle, and shooting at officers first.
"We have a witness that came forward that clearly indicated that there’s no possible way that Mr. Joseph ever fired at officers, nor did he have the opportunity to react," said Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk VP Pastor Carlos Soto. "From what the witness has explained to me is that the Tampa Police Department pulled multiple units, pulled up on Mr. Joseph’s vehicle, and within a matter of under a minute, shots were being fired into the car.”
Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk said it has a strong case to believe Joseph was "unlawfully murdered by officers employed with the Tampa Police Department."
"Jonas was a nice son, nice, nice, nice beautiful son," said Otancile Colas, Joseph's mother. "Jonas loved his mama, loved his dad, loved his sister and brother. Jonas loved his niece and loved his friends. Jonas never disrespected nobody.”
The family provided a video shared on social media. While dark, shot from a distance, and without sound, activists claim it shows Joseph in his car, while police said their preliminary investigation showed Joseph got out of the car and shot at officers.
BLM Restoration Polk has partnered with the Poor Minority Justice Association to assist the family. According to activists, the family has also retained attorney Benjamin Crump. We've reached out to Crump's office for comment.
"Our plan is to ensure that the truth comes out. If we’re able to truthfully uncover any wrongdoing by the police department, which I’m sure we will, we’re going to push for criminal charges against each and every officer that took place in the shooting death of Mr. Joseph," said Soto. "We’re also going to push for criminal charges against each and every detective that took place in the investigation.”
State Attorney Andrew Warren's office is reviewing the incident. We've reached out to TPD for a statement and to verify the video family provided. We're still waiting to hear back.