Titusville police officer faces manslaughter charge after deadly shooting, state attorney says

Joshua Payne shot, killed James Lowery, 40, in December, investigators say

James Lowery, 40, was shot and killed by a Titusville police officer after a physical altercation on Dec. 26, according to investigators (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – A Titusville police officer is now facing a manslaughter charge for a deadly shooting in December, according to the Brevard-Seminole State Attorney’s Office.

The state attorney announced the charge against officer Joshua Payne for the death of James Lowery, 40, in a news release Wednesday. The officer surrendered at the Brevard County jail Wednesday morning on a $15,000 bond.

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Payne was one of multiple officers who responded to a 911 call of a man attacking a woman along South Deleon Avenue on Dec. 26, according to the release.

Payne claimed Lowery looked similar to the suspect — though it was later determined the man was not even involved — and the officer attempted to question him, according to the state attorney.

Lowery ran away, according to the release, and Payne tried to stop him with his Taser, but it had no effect, the state attorney said.

Lowery managed to climb a fence, at which point Payne pulled his firearm and tried to climb the fence while also holding his Taser and gun, the release said. The officer fired a single shot in the process, which killed Lowery, records show.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the shooting and turned over its evidence to the state attorney’s office on May 6.

After reviewing the evidence, the state attorney decided to pursue a manslaughter charge against the officer.

No trial date has been set.

Lowery’s family has retained well-known civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.

The lawyer released a statement following the announcement from the state attorney’s office.

“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.”

Benjamin Crump Law

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

The family will then take part in a news briefing later in the day, according to the release, but no details have been made available.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.