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Cop Who Shot Unarmed Man in the Back of the Head Released On $15,000 Bond

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – A Florida police officer is out on bond after he was arrested and charged with manslaughter for the deadly shooting of James Lowery in December.

According to investigators, on December 26, 2021 police got a call about a man assaulting a woman in the street. Officer Joshua Payne, 29, was one of several officers who responded to the domestic violence call. 

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) report, when the officers first arrived on the scene they saw a man running away. 

A short time later Payne confronted a man, later identified as James Lowery, whom he thought was the same person who had attacked the woman. Payne and Lowery got into a “physical altercation”, the report says. 

Lowery ran away and Payne tried to stop him with his Taser, but it had no effect. That’s when Payne gave commands for Lowery to stop and get down, according to the report.

Lowery climbed a fence, at which point Payne pulled his firearm and fired both his gun and his Taser at the same time. The officer fired a single bullet, which struck Lowery in the back of the head. He died at the scene. 

Payne surrendered at the Brevard County jail Wednesday morning on a $15,000 bond.

Investigators later discovered that Lowery was not involved in the attack on the woman.

“We’ve always known that James was not involved in the initial call. We knew that because we knew the people who were involved in the initial call and we gave that information to FDLE and to the police department,” said Natalie Jackson, the family attorney.

Payne claimed Lowery looked similar to the suspect and the officer attempted to question him, according to the state attorney.

The FDLE turned over the results of its investigation to the state attorney’s office on May 6. After reviewing the case, the state attorney decided to pursue a manslaughter charge against Payne. 

Well-known civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing Lowery’s family. He released a statement following the announcement of the manslaughter charges:

“We are encouraged by the State Attorney’s decision to file charges against Officer Payne for his deadly actions, but we will not stop fighting until there is a conviction. Officer Payne targeted, stalked, tased, and shot James in the back of the head despite the fact that he wasn’t involved in the case that was being investigated, wasn’t armed, and was in no way threatening the officer. Officer Payne’s actions, as laid out in black and white in the affidavit, were nothing short of criminal.

“Nothing will bring James back to his family and loved ones, but we can bring them a measure of justice by holding Officer Payne accountable. And today’s charges bring us one step closer.”

The family is set to meet with the state attorney Friday to review the evidence against Payne, according to a news release.

No trial date has been set.

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