The undercover police officer whose Nov. 29 testimony at the sentencing for the man who shot him during a traffic stop included an offer of a tube of lubricant will apparently not be reprimanded by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for his comments, according to a brief statement Wednesday from Sheriff Mike Williams.
Kevin Rojas was sentenced to life plus multiple 15- and 10-year terms after being found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, attempted manslaughter, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and other charges. The 21-year-old had been smug in court when the officer, unnamed because of his undercover capacity, called him a coward and said he would have a tough time in prison. Then the officer held out some K-Y Jelly and told Rojas he was “going to need a lot of this.”
The officer would not talk with a Times-Union reporter when questioned later about his conduct. On Nov. 30 sheriff’s spokeswoman Lauri-Ellen Smith said the sheriff hadn’t received any citizen complaints concerning the matter.
After a citizen complaint was forwarded to Mayor Lenny Curry that said allowing a police officer to advocate violence is wrong, he said his expectation was that all citizens be “treated with respect and dignity in all proceedings,” and that includes police.
“JSO personnel are no exception and are entrusted to serve and protect citizens,” Curry wrote Tuesday. “The actions described by this officer are not reflective of the conduct Sheriff Williams promotes and encourages. To learn more about his policies and expectations, I’m copying his office.”
The sheriff’s three-paragraph letter came the next day and said, “We have discussed proper courtroom demeanor and professionalism with the officer” after his courtroom statements. No official reprimand is referenced.
“He continues to deal with the incident that could have taken both his life and that of his young son, as he will for the rest of his life,” Williams said. “I believe justice was served with the jury’s verdict. God knows how many other officers could have been harmed or killed had the suspect not been apprehended.”
Rojas had fought with his girlfriend that morning in March 2016, then fired a gun and told her that day might be his last, police said. He sped off and began driving erratically, which caught the undercover officer’s attention as he took his son to school.
The officer stopped Rojas on Collins Road. The young man jumped out and fired through the officer’s windshield, hitting him but not the child, police said. Rojas stole a truck and barricaded himself inside his home. Arriving officers wounded him after saying they saw him point a gun at them and arrested him.
Times-Union writer Eileen Kelley contributed to this article.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549