State Attorney: Officer justified in Dawson shooting

08/12/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe concluded today that a St. Petersburg police officer was justified in his use of deadly force in the shooting death of 17 year old student Javon Dawson in June.

Dawson was shot and killed by St. Petersburg Police Officer Terence Nemeth at a graduation party on June 7.

But critics, such as members of the Uhuru Movement in St. Petersburg, said they had spoken with many witnesses who said that Dawson did not have a gun on him at the time.

McCabe’s report says tests found Dawson’s DNA on a gun found after the shooting, and said gunshot residue was on his pants.

After the shooting, members of the Uhuru movement said they had witnesses at the part who said that Javon Dawson was unarmed. But they said that those witnesses did not were not willing to come forward. They said that the gun found afterwards had been planted by police.

In McCabe’s report, “despite the hundreds of people in the area of the shooting, no witnesses have been located that have been able to give a complete account of what transpired at the time Dawson was shot except Officer Nemeth.”

The report comes a day after St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker and other local officials released a letter publicly urging for peace and calm in the community, and for any witnesses to the case to come forward.

And it comes a day before an Uhuru backed group called Justice For Javon planned to present a petition filled with over a thousand signatures to Gov. Charlie Crist calling for McCabe’s removal from the case.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon issued this statement: "My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Dawson family as well as Officer Terrence Nemeth and his family. This has been a difficult situation for all involved. I appreciate the patience and understanding our broader community has demonstrated thus far during the investigation and ask for their continued understanding while we conclude our internal investigation."

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