Lakeland man waiting for FL legislature to approve $300K from settlement for 2001 police shooting

Polk County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida law blocks local governments from paying settlements over a certain value and requires lawmakers to vote to approve larger amounts. Three Tampa Bay cases are currently waiting for legislators to vote and grant relief. One, in Lakeland, involves Reginald Jackson who was shot by a police officer in 2001 and left permanently disabled.

Court records from his settlement with the City of Lakeland show that Jackson has only received the first $100,000 of his $412,500 settlement. The facts of the case are not in dispute, agreed to in a Polk County court in 2009 when the case was settled.

Now in 2021, Jackson is still waiting for state lawmakers to approve the remainder of his settlement. The claim bill is currently sponsored by State Sen. Darryl Rouson, FLD19. The next attempt to pass the claim bill will come in the 2022 legislative session.

According to records from the Florida Legislature, this is the fourth time Rouson has sponsored the relief claim on the legislative agenda. He previously sponsored the claim in 2017, 2018 and 2021. Before that, it was sponsored by former Florida Sen. Gwen Margolis in 2013 and Sen. Rod Smith in 2010.

The claim bill in the legislature, and court documents in Polk County, state that Mike Cochran, a Lakeland Police Department officer, put in the wrong license plate number and stopped Jackson for driving with an invalid tag on the car on Oct. 18, 2001.

When he was pulled over, Cochran cited him for transporting his girlfriend’s 18-month-old without a car seat, and then told him he couldn’t move the vehicle without properly restraining the child.

Records say that Jackson asked if the officer would escort his vehicle to his home a short distance away, the officer refused and told him to go to a nearby payphone to call for someone to bring a car seat. The payphone he was directed to did not work, so Jackson got back in the car and drove one block further, with the child still in the car, to make the call at a working payphone.

After the initial stop, Cochran set up in an alley parallel to the initial stop and watched Jackson drive to the payphone on the next block.

According to the claim bill, while he was on the second payphone, Cochran came over and arrested Jackson for disobeying a law enforcement officer. Jackson, reportedly startled, ran back to his car, got in, and backed up, then drove forward without pressing on the gas. Cochran told Jackson to stop, or he would shoot.

Jackson pumped his brakes twice and Cochran fired through the windshield, striking Jackson in the neck. The shot went through his neck and exited his back, according to the claim bill and court records from the Lakeland court case.

At all times, Jackson was unarmed and the 18-month-old was still in the car next to him, according to the claim bill.

Following the use of force, police transported the child to the police station without a child seat. As a result of the injury from the gunshot by the LPD officer, Jackson is permanently disabled, according to records from the case, settlement, and claim bill.

The jury had awarded Jackson $550,000 but the settlement found he was 25% at negligent, and Cochran was 75% negligent in the case. That percentage was determined to equal the $412,500 amount to be paid to Jackson, according to court filings from 2009.

The City of Lakeland, having already paid the first $100,000 of the settlement in 2009, has by law met the limits of its financial, statutory responsibility.

Now, to receive the rest of the settlement amount, Jackson needs a vote in the legislature to grant relief for the remaining $312,500.

Read the judgment from the 2009 settlement below:

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