Nassau County sheriff providing no details in fatal police shooting

(Jim Schoettler)   YULEE — A state investigator has told the family of an apparently unarmed Callahan man slain by a deputy Saturday night that he intends to review the patrol car’s video for evidence, but no details about what’s on the video or related matters have been released.

Sheriff Tommy Seagraves broke his agency’s silence about the shooting in an afternoon news conference Tuesday but gave few new details. Seagraves had refused to comment after turning the case over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, whose officials have also declined to release details.

Provided by family Ray Bodden was stopped Saturday by a Nassau County deputy, questioned, released and shot moments later. The family says Bodden was unarmed.

Seagraves wouldn’t discuss the reason for the traffic stop that led to the death of motorcyclist Franklin “Ray” Bodden, 39, or any circumstances involving Deputy Ernie Cole’s decision to shoot Bodden. Bodden’s sister, Melissa Bodden, told the Times-Union Tuesday night Bodden’s passenger, Tony Weeks, told her from jail the stop was made for speeding. She said she believes her brother was reaching for his cigarettes when he was shot.

Seagraves said he is waiting for the FDLE’s investigation to be complete before he proceeds with his own.

“Sometimes officers have to make … split-second decisions,” Seagraves said. “We do offer our sorrows at this occurring. It’s not something we wanted to see happen.”

Seagraves said he has not seen the tape from Cole’s car.

Bodden’s family has complained about a lack of information, though Seagraves said he’s released everything he could to the family.

“They haven’t had the decency to come down here to tell the family what happened,” said Chuck DeYoung, 55, Bodden’s brother. “I want the truth.”

Seagraves said Cole was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, which occurred after Cole stopped Bodden and Weeks in a commercial area of U.S. 1 in Callahan.

Also in Cole’s car was David Bright, a detention deputy, Seagraves said. He said Bright was riding with Cole as part of the agency’s civilian observer program.

Seagraves said Cole began his work as a corrections officer before moving to patrol. He called Cole a good deputy. He said Bright was hired a week before the shooting.

An FDLE spokeswoman said she didn’t expect the investigation to be completed for at least several weeks.

Bodden’s family said they were told by Weeks that Bodden was shot after Bright yelled out to Cole that Bodden was reaching for something in his pocket. Weeks said he witnessed the shooting from the hood of Cole’s car, where he was being handcuffed after Cole found some type of pill in his possession.

Melissa Bodden said she talked to Weeks on Tuesday night at the Nassau County jail, where Weeks is being held on charges of resisting arrest without violence and possessing drugs without a prescription.

Bodden said her brother and Weeks, his best friend, were riding on Bodden’s motorcycle to a pool hall when the shooting occurred. She said Bodden and Cole apparently knew each other. She said a witness to the traffic stop said Bodden and Cole shook hands moments after the motorcycle was pulled over in front of the pool hall.

Bodden said Weeks told her Bright called out to Cole, “He’s going for something.” She said Weeks told her Cole ordered her brother to stop, then shot him twice in the chest.

Bodden’s family said he did not own a gun and was unarmed at the time of the slaying.

A viewing for Bodden will be held Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Nassau Funeral Home, 541720  U.S. 1. His funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at Freedom Hall, 54233 Plantation Road., (904) 359-4385

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