SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The family of a teen whose car was damaged in a confrontation with neighbors in a gated Sanford community last month met with the state attorney’s office Thursday to ask for “more serious charges” against the two men arrested in the incident.
They also raised the idea that there were other individuals in the incident who should be arrested, and are considering the possibility of a civil lawsuit.
Jermaine Jones, 16, his parents and attorneys Greg Francis and Kevin Edwards held a news conference outside of the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office at 11:30 a.m.
Jones’ legal team described the June 14 incident as an attack in which he and another teenager were accosted and harassed while driving through the Lake Forest subdivision, leading up to one neighbor throwing a rock through the teen’s car window and another hitting one of the teens in their stomach with a traffic cone.
Jones told News 6 he acknowledges he was speeding through the neighborhood, but he thinks the actions of the accused were not appropriate.
“I can admit when I’m wrong,” Jones said. “I was speeding a little bit but either way, I don’t think it was justified for them to throw a rock through my car rather than just call the police.”
After the window broke, Jones stepped out of his car and said he began recording because he feared for his life. His legal team likened the situation to “what happened to Ahmaud Arbery,” a 25-year-old Black man who was chased, shot and killed in 2020 while jogging through a neighborhood in Georgia.
Jones’ attorneys said it will be up to the state attorney’s office to decide if this was a racially-motivated incident.
“We believe that if it is a racial situation that the state attorney’s investigation will show that, but if it’s not, if the evidence does not prove that, we believe that this is a 16-year-old who is going about his daily life, and regardless of what his color is, no group of adults should act this way toward a 16-year-old,” Edwards said.
Court records show Donald Corsi and Howard Hughes were arrested by Seminole County deputies after the confrontation. According to arrest reports, Corsi faces a property damage charge and a weapons charge for throwing the rock, while Hughes faces property damage and battery charges for throwing the cone. Both men were arrested June 14 and bonded out of jail the next day, a sheriff’s office spokesperson said.
An arraignment is set for August.
Edwards and Francis said they told the state attorney’s office about a third individual at the scene who had a gun, but was not arrested, which they said prosecutors didn’t know about initially. They are currently investigating whether charges should be brought.
Jones’ attorneys said their concern is that some people in the neighborhood attempted vigilante justice on Jones. The teenager said he has been having nightmares and has no interest in ever returning to the neighborhood where his friend lives, which he said he had visited for years.
“If there’s a speeding issue going on in the neighborhood, then certainly call the police, get the tag number, talk to the occupants of the house where the car went and tell them, ‘Hey, this is an issue,’” Francis said. “But certainly never, regardless of race, never should a 16-year-old be driving in a car and someone throws a missile into the car, throw a rock into the car in an attempt to injury.”
The state attorney’s office said it had no role in Thursday’s news conference, and it generally avoids commenting publicly on open cases.
“Every criminal complaint that our office receives undergoes a careful and thorough review by experienced prosecutors to determine the appropriate course of action,” the office said in a statement. “The process is thoughtful, and considers not only the initially reported facts, but may include seeking further investigation, identifying and interviewing witnesses, and carefully weighing all the evidence before making a filing decision.”
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: