ORANGE COUNTY JAIL, FLORIDA — On March 22, 2020, at 5:46 pm, Eric Jefferson Stanley Jr. was in the triage area of the Orange County Corrections Booking and Release Center (“BRC”) in Orlando, Florida. He was present with another inmate – Charlie English – for a routine check prior to being booked into jail. While seated on a waiting bench, Stanley extracted his left hand from the flex cuffs in which he was secured, brandished a handgun and pointed it at Corrections Officer James Magwood, who he ordered to the ground. Magwood complied.
Stanley then pointed the gun at his arresting officer, Deputy Jeffery James-Potts, ordering James-Potts to “not do anything.” Stanley approached Magwood and pointed the gun at his head. He then walked to James-Potts and physically grabbed hold of him, pointing the handgun at James-Potts’ head while ordering deputies outside of the locked triage area to back away, threatening to kill his new hostage.
Stanley forced James-Potts to walk around the nurse’s desk, where Stanley was surprised to find the triage nurse — who had been hiding beneath his desk. Stanley ordered the triage nurse, Hector Jamie, to move from behind the desk — an area Stanley took over, bringing his hostage along for the ride. Stanley began searching James-Potts for other weapons, placing his handgun in his lap to free his hands. Sensing that as his opportunity, James-Potts tried to take control of the handgun. He did not succeed.
Stanley punched James-Potts in the face with his fists and pistol whipped him multiple times. As they both fell to the ground, shots were fired into the triage area — through bullet-resistant glass. One round that penetrated struck Stanley in his shoulder.
Stanley hid behind the nurse’s desk while sitting on top of Deputy James-Potts, refusing to allow James-Potts to leave. During this time, triage nurse Jamie was hiding behind a body scanner used to scan incoming inmates. Jamie yelled for staff within the control room to open the door to the sally port, and the control room complied, but when Jamie began to run toward the door, Stanley rose to his knees and, according to an official report, fired a round toward the door, preventing Jamie from exiting. It is unclear in the video when, and whether, that actually happened. When Stanley returned to his position of cover behind the desk, Jamie ran out the open door.
Stanley remained behind the desk and on top of James-Potts, who, with the help of Stanley’s girlfriend via FaceTime, eventually convinced Stanley to (a) not kill him, and (b) extract the magazine from his handgun and put the handgun on the ground. At that point, a staged SWAT team entered the triage area from multiple directions and secured Stanley, dragging James-Potts out of the room. James-Potts was taken to the hospital to be treated for multiple lacerations to his face.
[Surprisingly, at a press conference later that night Sheriff John Mina would publicly claim that no deputies or corrections officers were injured in the incident. This was clearly untrue, and it is surprising that Mina would not have known his employee had been admitted to the ER.]
At a later awards ceremony, Sheriff Mina recognized James-Potts, stating that he “was taken hostage and remained cool and calm in probably one of the most harrowing situations any law enforcement or civilian could ever face and there is no doubt in my mind his actions not only saved his own life but saved the lives of corrections officers and others there alike.”
He also suspended James-Potts (and the two other deputies involved in Stanley’s arrest) for 40 hours without pay for failing to properly search Stanley. It has since emerged that Stanley was searched multiple times, specifically because deputies suspected he had a firearm. Turns out they were right.
Eric Jefferson Stanley Jr. faces three counts of armed kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault of an LEO with a firearm, one count of aggravated battery of an LEO with a deadly weapon, and one count possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Footage of the entire incident is available exclusively on Real World Police at https://rwp.yt/gun.
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