First Responders

WATCH: Deputy Aims and Fires in Midair at Knife-Wielding Man

July 24, 2021Joshua Skovlund
deputy fires at knife-wielding suspect in midair

As he falls backward, Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Jackson draws his pistol, aims, and fires at Reginald Johnson. Screenshot from security camera footage, courtesy of the Sun Herald.

Security camera footage released this week captures the moment a deputy in Biloxi, Mississippi, fires in midair as he falls over backward, retreating from a man with a knife.

On Jan. 15, Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Jackson confronted Reginald Johnson outside a Biloxi courthouse after Johnson had attacked several people in the streets nearby. Johnson rushed at Jackson while brandishing a knife as Jackson retreated. The deputy tripped, but as surveillance video obtained by the Sun Herald shows, he drew his pistol, aimed, and fired at the man as he fell.

Johnson falls on Jackson, who shoots Johnson at least three more times on the ground as they briefly wrestle with each other. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene, while Jackson suffered a stab wound in the leg.


According to the Sun Herald, a grand jury that considered the shooting did not charge the deputy. Police ruled the shooting to be justified. Johnson’s family was allowed to view the security camera footage, and they claimed it showed “excessive force.” They believed that Johnson was no longer a threat after being shot once or twice, and that the additional shots at close range were excessive.

The paper obtained the security camera footage via a public records request

Dennis Kenney, a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College in New York and a former police officer, told the paper that the video appeared to show a reasonable use of deadly force as the deputy fires in midair.

“It appears to me that the deputy believes he’s fighting for his life,” Kenney told the paper. “You’re trained, if you’re going to use your handgun, that the intent is for it to be deadly. The shoot-to-wound stuff doesn’t really work.”

Read Next: Columbus Police Release Shooting Video Within Hours of Incident

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.

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