Skip to main content

Jacksonville Police Kill Armed Man in Drug Raid

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #729)
Consequences of Prohibition

A Jacksonville, Florida, narcotics detective shot and killed an armed man during a drug raid aimed at arresting a small-scale crack dealer last Thursday. Juan Montrice Lawrence, 40, becomes the 22nd person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the third in a one-week period.

According to the Florida Times-Union, citing Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman John Hartley, detectives had spent six weeks buying crack out of an apartment in the Casa del Rio St. Johns complex, and, after making one last purchase at the apartment door Thursday afternoon, a "take-down team" attempted to arrest their target, Nathaniel Phillip Hill, 39.

But Hill struggled, and the officers were pulled into the apartment as they took Hill to the floor. A second male, later identified as Hill's teen-age son, was also tackled. At that point, veteran narcotics Detective Valentino Demps saw Lawrence standing in a hallway with a gun in his hand. Demps ordered Lawrence to drop the gun, then shot him twice when he did not comply.

"He gave multiple commands for the suspect to drop the gun. He refused to obey the commands," Hartley said. "He was shot at least twice, once in the face, once in the hip."

Lawrence was taken to Shands Jacksonville Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Witnesses described seeing officers in black uniforms and ski masks gathered at the apartment complex.

By Friday, police had identified Lawrence as an "armed felon" whose previous convictions including carrying a concealed weapon and cocaine possession and were saying that the decision to shoot him had probably saved several officers' lives.

"If he'd let him get down that hallway, we could have three or four dead officers at the scene," Hartley said. "Certainly he [Lawrence] was ready to fire on them."

Nathaniel Hill was arrested and charges with distribution of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. An ounce of cocaine, a pistol, and rounds of ammunition were seized at the apartment. Hill's teenage son was detained, but later released without charges.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Duane R. Olson (not verified)

Mr. Phillip Smith;  I would surmise that you are about sick of my letters and arrogant statements of "HOW TO LEGALLY AND CONSTITUTIONALLY END AMERICA'S FEDERAL 'WAR on DRUGS' "!  To that end, I am obligated to pay-out $359.00 per month  out of $879.00 per month Social Security to Capitol Pavilion and my Federal Case Manager because I am still under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Prisons until January 02, 2014.  I have prepared TWO FEDERAL QUESTIONS pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 1331 and I am in need of either the $500 filing fee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia or an attorney of Constitution Law to file the Motion.  It would seem to me, that I could or should be able to find someone to finance my Theory of Constitution Law and Strategy of Argument and "lay the matter to rest" by either applause or ridicule.  I will be happy to e-mail my argument to any interested party!  Can You help Mr. Smith?     

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 6:23pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.