'Shots fired': Florida deputy resigns after mistaking acorns for gunshots, prompting officer-involved shooting

An Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputy has resigned after an investigation into a November 2023 officer-involved shooting that started over the sound of acorns. 

The situation unfolded on November 12, 2023, when a woman called deputies about her boyfriend stealing her car around 8:42 a.m.

The woman's boyfriend, Marquis Jackson, eventually came back to the neighborhood around 9:09 a.m. and he was detained, handcuffed, and placed in former Okaloosa County Sheriff's Deputy Jesse Hernandez's car.

As Hernandez was approaching the passenger side rear door of his patrol car to do a secondary search of Jackson, he said he heard a "pop" sound which he believed to be a gunshot, officials said. 

Hernandez thought he was hit and began yelling "shots fired" several times before falling to the ground and rolling. Hernandez fired shots into the patrol car that Jackson was inside of.

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Another deputy on the scene, responding to Hernandez's reaction, fired gunshots toward the patrol car as well. 

Jackson was not injured in the shooting. 

According to deputies, witnesses attested they heard the sound and they thought it could've been a muffled gunshot. 

In a statement, Sheriff Eric Aden said:

"Immediately we began working diligently to determine the complete sequence of events and facts surrounding what transpired.  Deputy Hernandez resigned during the course of our investigation but was ultimately found to have violated policy. The deputies were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.  But let this be clear, we understand this situation was traumatic for Mr. Jackson and all involved and have incorporated this officer-involved shooting into our training to try to ensure nothing similar happens again. We are very thankful Mr. Jackson wasn’t injured and we have no reason to think former Deputy Hernandez acted with any malice. Though his actions were ultimately not warranted, we do believe he felt his life was in immediate peril and his response was based off the totality of circumstances surrounding this fear.  Just as we have an obligation to protect our officers so they can go home safely to their families, law enforcement has the same obligation to any citizen being investigated for a crime."

Hernandez had been with the sheriff's office since January 2022.