‘He looked like he had money’
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories framing the life of James Roland Jackson, III, known as “Jimmy” to his family.
BY PENNY DICKERSON
SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
Justice is a comfort surviving families rarely experience. And for most, true “closure” never comes.
The elapsed time between a violent crime ending in death and judicial resolution can be long and painful. The investigative process is slow and deliberate. Missteps police make along the way are often mourned as much as the death of the loved one.
This scenario is depicted in the case of Jimmy Jackson whose tragic death is a dual statistic: a violent gun crime in America followed by a cold case investigation.
James R. Jackson, Jr., Jimmy’s father, is deep in thought as family and friends mourn at Jimmy’s gravesite.
(CHARLES W. CHERRY II / FLORIDA COURIER)
In previous installments, the 26-year-old entrepreneur’s ambitions were highlighted. The son of James R. Jackson, Jr. and Stephanie Jackson-Rozier, Jackson’s formative years were wrought with emotional discomfort as he adjusted to his parents’ divorce and physical separation from his siblings.
He honed his athleticism as a youth in Atlanta while living with his father and earned a high school diploma in Apopka – his mother’s hometown. Jackson briefly attended Graceland University in Iowa on a sports scholarship then transferred to Florida A&M University, where he majored in business.
In addition to his artist management venture called “Exclusive J,” Jackson was employed by an AT&T call center in Jacksonville. Above all, he was a young father who doted over his five-year-old daughter Denia. She is his sole surviving dependent.
While working part time for rap artist “Young Cash,” a prodigy of the rapper Flo Rida, two men robbed him at gunpoint at the Silver Fox nightclub. Four bullets were pumped into Jackson’s 6-foot, 1-inch athletic physique. His family endured a 10-day vigil at Shands Hospital Jacksonville before Jackson was pronounced dead there on June 21, 2012.
A red cap is placed at the scene where a Black male was killed by gunshot in September 2012.
SPECIAL TO THE
Police are calling the tragedy a random robbery. Jackson’s murder remains unsolved.
Detective Bobbie Bowers is a 17-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO). He has investigated hundreds of murders. Some result in cold cases; others are solved.
“Jackson’s injuries didn’t appear life-threatening,” offered Bowers.
“The robbery and shooting made the charge aggravated battery, and his subsequent death made it a homicide.”
According to Bowers, Jackson was random prey for a sweep of growing street crimes.
“These people are organized. They watch church parking lots and places where women leave purses in cars then break-in or rob them,” Bowers explained.
“Jimmy drove a nice car and looked like he had money, so he was a target much like members of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team. They (pro football players) are known to travel to clubs with other players and are believed to have a ‘pocketful of money.’ ”
Nobody has come forward
By August 2012, Bowers still had no leads in the then two-months-old case.
“Nobody has come forward,” Bowers lamented. “Radio stations put it on the air immediately following the shooting, but there is a very slim chance the case will ever be solved.”
Jackson’s wallet taken during the robbery has been retrieved and remains in police custody. Fingerprints couldn’t be lifted.
“I’ve made calls and we have composite drawings. What we really need is for people to cooperate,” Bowers pleaded.
The detective attests that Jackson was “looking out for Young Cash” when he was victimized.
“Witnesses report that Cash had too much to drink and was outside throwing up,” said Bowers. “Jimmy went out looking for Cash and then went to get something from his white Camaro.”
The crime took place at 4 a.m. It was pitch-dark in the Silver Fox parking lot when two Black males wearing dark clothing pulled guns and robbed Jackson. Jackson complied, but was shot while walking away.
Attorney Christopher Chestnut has been retained to represent Jimmy Jackson’s family.
Investigation frustrates father
James Roland Jackson, Jr. likens his son’s investigation to a second death.
The senior Jackson has returned to his slain son’s crime scene three times since the murder took place. Like many survivors, he thinks he can do a better job than investigators, but doesn’t want to supersede their professional efforts.
“I am still losing sleep,” confessed Jackson. “I don’t feel their efforts (JSO) are guided and they are not supportive of me getting involved.”
He has not spoken to Detective Bowers in close to a month.
“My frustration is that there is no flow of communication, and I am not satisfied with any of it at this point,” stated Jackson. “This thing has become so commonplace that people are becoming desensitized towards the plight of homicide victims,” he added.
“Crime doesn’t pay, but we do!”
This First Coast Crime Stoppers tag is intended to persuade witnesses to come forward. The non-profit organization and global movement offers monetary awards up to $1,000 for anonymous tips.
None have come forward for Jackson in the eight months since he was killed. Money was the crime’s motive, but cash – at least not $1,000 – isn’t an incentive to dig up leads for justice in Jimmy’s case to date.
While investigators have encouraged Jackson to “let them do their job,’’ the dad has reached out to former Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover, current president of HBCU Edward Waters College and his son’s congresswoman, Corrine Brown, for help.
Glover referred the elder Jackson to JSO’s chief of staff. Brown’s office has been nonresponsive.
Jackson has also solicited help from his Jacksonville-area Omega Psi Phi Fraternity brothers to help raise public awareness.
Civil suit filed
The Chestnut Firm has been retained by Jackson’s family. Lead attorney Christopher Chestnut most notably represents the family of the late Robert Champion, the Florida A&M University drum major who died tragically in 2011 after being hazed by fellow band members.
(Editor’s note: See Page A1 this week for an update of the criminal and civil cases related to the Champion killing.)
No stranger to justice, Chestnut’s firm recently won a $5 million judgment on behalf of client Trinard Sneed who was shot to death at a Miami gas station. Chestnut dedicated four years on the case and endured two mistrials.
He says justice for the Jackson family may not be swift, but he’ll do what’s legally necessary to achieve justice, no matter how long it takes.
“I believe in my clients and what I do,” he stated. “My clients (who were) killed in these cases do not willingly place themselves in harm’s way.
“I am an attorney. My job is to ensure that there is sufficient security. Awards are left to juries; shutting a club is a government decision.”
History of violence
Chestnut’s firm has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Silver Fox nightclub and its owners.
“It is our position that there is a history of violent activity in and around that property. And that because of that activity, it would have been reasonable to have sufficient security (and lighting) in the parking lot,” Chestnut told the Florida Courier this week.
“It is further reasonable for citizens to go into environments with an expectation of safety. As a father, had Jimmy known he would be robbed