PALM COAST - An ordinary traffic stop on Thursday evening quickly turned scary when the suspect apparently pulled out and pointed a gun at the Flagler Sheriff's deputy who'd stopped him. 42 year-old Jason Keel is in jail for three felony charges and one misdemeanor related to the incident. No shots were fired and thankfully no one was injured.
The encounter began when Corporal Jacob West is said to have committed a traffic light violation on Palm Coast Parkway at around 10:34 pm. Corporal West hit the lights and pulled him over into the parking lot of a nearby Bank of America. Keel had his window rolled down and he informed West that he was in possession of a gun. Upon being instructed to do so, Keel placed his hands on the steering wheel.
The bodycam footage shows his hands remained there for a moment before he reached to the passenger seat and produced the gun, seemingly pointing it toward West. Jumping backward and drawing his own gun, West ordered Keel to drop the gun and exit the car. Both orders were followed.
The audio in the bodycam footage (attached below) isn't completely clear, but Keel might've said something to the effect of "I want to let you hold it" to West, which West responded to with, "Okay yeah, I appreciate it". Keel's speech was observed by deputies to be somewhat slurred, and he was later charged with a DUI. West did not state in the arrest report that Keel had given him prior notice that he was about to reach for the gun.
As Keel placed his hands on the hood as asked to, West began to scold him for his actions. "That's probably the dumbest thing you could've done," he said. "You're lucky I didn't shoot you." After the fact Keel said he was trying to hand the gun over, but the arrest report states he was holding it in such a way that the trigger was accessible and the barrel was aimed toward West.
Later investigation determined that the gun, a Glock 43, was loaded and unhindered. Though West's car was an unmarked patrol vehicle, he himself was said to be wearing clearly marked 'SHERIFF' imagery on his person.
Backup soon arrived to assist with the apprehension of West. Upon being booked at the Flagler County Jail, Keel was charged with felony Firearm Use Under the Influence, Aggravated Assault on an Officer, Unlawful Concealed Carry, and misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence. His bond was set at $25,000, and as of Friday afternoon he remains behind bars. “If not for the de-escalation and tactical training we provide our deputies, this idiot would be dead,” said Sheriff Rick Staly.
The bodycam footage of the incident is available below, courtesy of the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.