TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida deputy who was caught on video pointing a gun at a pregnant Black woman during a traffic stop has resigned, authorities tell WFLA.
Deputy Jason Desue left the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office after the incident, which occurred around midnight on Friday, Aug. 12, First Coast News reported.
The mother, Ebony Washington, who is four months pregnant, told WJAX she and her four children were on their way home to Jacksonville from Gainesville when Desue tried to pull her over for speeding. She was going 75 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone, according to reports.
Washington said she was looking for a safe, well-lit place to pull over, and turned on her hazard lights and kept driving until she got to a convenience store.
“It was dark and I was with my kids. I felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to be able to not have anyone else around,” she recalled.
Body camera video released by the sheriff’s office shows Desue follow her into the parking lot, get out of his patrol car and immediately point his gun at her van.
“If you make a move that’ll be the last mistake you make. Do not move,” Desue told Washington.
“I didn’t know he had a gun until I told him my seatbelt was still on and he said, ‘Get out. I have my gun. I’m not worried,’” the mother recalled.
After Desue ordered her to step out of the vehicle, Washington exited the van with her hands raised and tried to explain why she didn’t stop in time.
“Your excuse means nothing to me right now,” Desue said.
“I’m trying to tell you the only reason why I didn’t stop,” she told him. “I’m a very educated woman with a master’s degree … It’s dark out and I have three kids with me. I’m pregnant, and I did not want them to feel uncomfortable.”
“Just shut up about the why,” Desue said. “I don’t care about why.”
One of Washington’s children recorded video of the incident. Another could be heard crying as the deputy pointed a gun at their mother, First Coast reported.
“I was scared he was going to either take her to jail or that he might hurt her,” Washington’s daughter, Saige Washington, told WJAX. “Why is he so upset? She wasn’t doing anything.”
“Had I have done any movement outside of what he told me to do that would’ve been the opportunity for him to pull the trigger,” Washington said. “Him having power, the badge, the gun and the authority to do things, I think sometimes officers, like himself, they take advantage.”
The deputy gave Washington a speeding ticket and eventually let her go. When she apologized again, he told her to “apologize to herself for not thinking.”
In a statement provided to WFLA by his spokesman, Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith said he had already accepted Desue’s resignation while “continuing the internal investigation into his conduct.”
“I am disturbed and disheartened how Jacob Desue handled the traffic stop on Ebony Washington. She responded in a manner that was totally understandable in this circumstance,” Smith said. “Jacob Desue should have de-escalated the situation but disappointingly was unable to respond in the appropriate manner.”
Smith told First Coast Washington did exactly what he would tell his daughter, wife or anyone else who feels uncomfortable during a traffic stop to do, “You reduce your speed, you turn on your flashing lights, be acknowledged,” he said.
“The whole thing would upset my children, my grandchildren,” the sheriff added. “So a lot of things that should have been done weren’t done. And at the end of the day, we determined that was something that we didn’t need representing us, or protecting our community.”
Although Smith said Washington did things right, she still blames herself for how things unfolded.
“None of this would’ve happened had I not been speeding,” she told First Coast. “My husband always says … ‘Why you so in a rush?’”