Acorn Incident Leads to Deputy's Resignation


Deputy Jesse Hernandez Dashcam Video

In November, a deputy from Okaloosa County discharged his weapon at his patrol car after confusing the sound of a falling acorn with a gunshot, the sheriff's department reports.

A statement from the sheriff's department last month detailed that this event occurred on the morning of November 12.

At that time, a complaint had been lodged about a vehicle incessantly honking in a residential area, causing a disturbance, according to investigators.

Subsequently, a woman reported her boyfriend, Marquis Jackson, was withholding her car and sending threatening messages, as per the investigative document.

Responding to these incidents, four deputies arrived on scene and learned that Jackson had been allowed to use the woman's car but was now refusing to return it, the deputies reported.

The victim shared with the deputies, “Whenever we have a disagreement, regardless of who is at fault, he resorts to physical threats or violence. It escalates quickly,” according to the report.

The report also notes that Jackson appeared on the scene but was kept at a distance from the victim by the deputies. Despite his lack of cooperation verbally, he claimed he had left the car at the victim’s mother’s residence, which was proven untrue by the investigators.

Jackson was subsequently detained and placed in a patrol car.

It was also discovered that Jackson possessed a firearm and a suppressor, and the vehicle he had taken was located a few miles away from the victim’s residence.

At this point, Deputy Jesse Hernandez, intending to conduct a thorough search, approached the patrol car wearing “medical style gloves,” as stated in the report.

However, an acorn dropping onto the car startled Hernandez, causing him to mistakenly yell “Shots fired!” multiple times and open fire on the patrol vehicle, believing it to be under attack, as captured on body-worn camera footage.

Following the gunfire, Hernandez, after falling once more, voiced that he was injured, though it was later clarified that there was no actual gunfire nor injuries from such.

During an interview days later, Hernandez recounted feeling an impact that led him to believe he had been shot, attributing it to possibly being hit by a suppressed gunshot, a misconception later debunked by investigators who identified the sound as merely an acorn hitting the car.

Upon reviewing body-cam footage with Hernandez, the misunderstanding was clarified when the investigator pointed out the acorn’s role in the incident.

Another deputy, responding to Hernandez's shouts, also fired at the vehicle, believing Hernandez had been attacked.

Investigative findings revealed no evidence of Hernandez being struck or any gunfire from Jackson within the car, concluding Hernandez's reaction as disproportionate. Nevertheless, the actions of the other deputy were deemed justified under the circumstances.

Hernandez resigned amid the investigation, as disclosed by the sheriff's office on Monday.

Sheriff Eric Aden acknowledged the distress caused by the incident, emphasizing its incorporation into training to prevent future occurrences. He expressed relief that Jackson was unharmed and believed Hernandez's reaction stemmed from a genuine fear for his safety, though it was determined to be an overreaction without malice.