Jacksonville sheriff: No laws broken by Councilman Reggie Gaffney

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Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams released a statement Wednesday stating City Councilman Reggie Gaffney broke no laws in regards to his license plate that was reported stolen.

Gaffney was accused of falsely reporting his tag stolen to avoid paying citations.

He was stopped by police in Jacksonville after they ran his tag and it came back stolen.

Body camera video shows the encounter between Gaffney and officers during which Gaffney accused the officers of harassing him.

FOP President Steve Zona called for Jacksonville Sheriff's Office’s Integrity Unit to investigate whether Gaffney falsely reported his tag missing to avoid paying the citations.

Williams said in the statement Wednesday that the license plate was removed from his car while it was at the shop.

Gaffney reported it stolen but when the car was released from the shop, it had the license plate on it.

Gaffney's friend was driving that car when unpaid toll citations were issued.

Gaffney assumed they were for the car he drove, which is the same make and model.

Williams said Gaffney neglected to notify police and have the police report updated but there was no illegal act in regard to the stolen tag.

Williams' full statement:

In the days following the lawful traffic stop of Councilman Reginald Gaffney, for driving with a tag reported stolen, I committed to an investigation to determine if any laws were broken in the filing of that police report. Our Integrity Unit investigated and determined that no laws were broken.

These are the overarching facts of the case:
•    Mr. Gaffney owns two cars of the same model and type
•    Both cars have specialty license plates; both the same type
•    Mr. Gaffney received notices of unpaid toll tickets from Central Florida
•    Mr. Gaffney assumed they were for the car he drives. 
•    He didn’t associate the notices to his other vehicle, which was being driven by a friend and was in fact responsible for the toll violations.
•    He made the (incorrect) assumption the notices weren’t his, due to the fact the car he drives was in the shop.
•    He went to the repair shop and saw his car without its license tag. It is not uncommon for repair shops to remove a tag when a car is undergoing lengthy repairs, to prevent theft. 
•    Mr. Gaffney didn’t discuss the “missing” tag with the shop personnel; he filed a police report for a stolen tag.
•    When his car was returned to him from the repair shop, his tag (that had been reported stolen) was on the car.
•    He neglected to notify police and have the police report updated and essentially voided.
•    There was no illegal act on Mr. Gaffney’s part, with regard to the “stolen” tag.

Related to this incident, I committed to looking into the release of the police body camera video, from that same traffic stop. Although it is a public record, and would have been released, I wanted to determine if proper protocols for the release of information were followed. That is still under review.

Finally, as I stated last week in a news conference, and again this week, my review of the official footage of the traffic stop showed no wrongdoing by the officers involved. This was a lawful stop with a professional transaction between law enforcement and citizens.

Thank you
Sheriff Mike Williams
Duval County, FL

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