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Florida fire department shut down after chief’s boxing match with autistic man

Investigation underway as chief and other members remain suspended

Note: Video has been edited to hide the identity of the victim.

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That’s Jalon Herring in the white t-shirt in the above video. Herring is the, now suspended, fire chief of Florida’s Jennings VFD (Hamilton County). News reports indicate Herring is also a correctional officer. The other man in this boxing match is autistic. Law enforcement investigating the incident say the 19-year-old man has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. My assessment after viewing the video is that he may still be higher functioning than the fire chief and other alleged public servants involved with this incident. You’ll hear a number of people on the video who are laughing. Hamilton County Sheriff Harrell Reid told WTXL-TV it was apparent to him the witnesses “thought it was great fun”. The investigation has resulted in the shut down of Jennings VFD after suspensions left the department without enough staffing to respond to alarms.

For the record, some comments on news sites paint a different pictures of this incident. Here’s an excerpt of one of the comments:

This article has what happened completely backwards. You have twisted acts of kindness into something violent and cruel. The young man enjoys hanging out at the firehouse with the firefighters. They are kind and caring and let him. He also like to horse play and wrestle. Thus the reason that both parties were wearing boxing gloves. There was NOTHING at all violent going on! This was merely horsing around and good natured.

WTXL-TV:

Eight Jennings firefighters have been suspended pending an investigation into an alleged battery on an autistic 19-year-old.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to ABC 27 that they received a report on Oct. 4 regarding an incident that occurred on Sept. 20.

According the HCSO, eight volunteer members of the Jennings Fire Department participated in acts of violence against a 19-year-old victim, who has autism.

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Kara M. Compo, Suwannee Democrat:

Volunteer firefighter John Davis who also serves as an officer with the Jennings Police Department, was reportedly there. According to the HCSO report, when investigating Deputy Smith questioned Davis regarding whether he was present at the time of the event, Davis “chuckled a little” and then stated “yea” so as to answer that he was present. Once Deputy Smith advised Davis of the seriousness of the incident, Davis changed his answer saying, “Well I wasn’t up here, I got the video then came up here after it happened”, then stated that he didn’t know that what had occurred was an actual crime.

The disabled adult is a mentally disabled adult who has been living at an assisted living facility in Jennings for several months now.

According to the HCSO report, the victim’s caregiver said he has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child, who is easily coerced into doing things and doesn’t know how to tell people “no.”

Read entire story

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