Two Cape Coral officers off the force over policy violations connected to man’s death

Reporter: Justin Kase
Published: Updated:
Cape Coral Police Department
Cape Coral Police Department

A Cape Coral police officer has been terminated and another has resigned due to numerous policy violations in connection to the death of a Cape Coral man.

Police Chief Anthony Sizemore Officer said Officer Davis Rios was terminated and that he accepted a letter of resignation from Officer Joshua Morgan in lieu of termination.

On Sunday, March 13, the two officers discovered Jeremiah Don Ballam Jr., 22, intoxicated and passed out in the roadway near Club Square after leaving Backstreets Bar around 3:30 that Sunday morning.

The officers’ body-worn camera showed Ballam’s high level of impairment. Sizemore said an internal affairs investigation of the incident shows the officers did not call for medical help, check for an address to give him a ride home, attempt to locate family or ensure he had a phone to call for help.

Jeremiah Don Ballam Jr., 22.

When Ballam was told by officers any more interaction would result in a Marchman Act, meaning he would temporarily be taken into protective custody for emergency assistance, he declined and said he would walk home.

He walked away in the opposite direction of his home and that was the last time he was seen alive.

Ballam was reported missing by his family later that morning.

The 22-year-old’s body was ultimately found in a nearby canal on March 15, where police say he died by drowning after falling in while intoxicated.

Sizemore asked for a review of the body-worn cameras and asked the Professional Standards Bureau to initiate an internal affairs investigation.

The investigation found numerous “egregious policy violations” the chief added, specifically, dereliction of duty.

“I have high expectations for my officers to do what is lawful, moral, and just,” Sizemore said. “These officers’ actions, or in this case inaction, are not in keeping with our vision, mission or values.”

Jeremiah Ballam Jr. is known by his loved ones as JJ. They believe he would still be alive today if the two Cape Coral police officers had done their job.

“JJ could have been saved. He could have been here today. This could have ended so much differently. And I just… There’s really not much more to say other than this was an absolute failure,” said Britany Moore, JJ’s stepmother.

“It’s gut-wrenching. It’s gut-wrenching because when you look at police, the first thought is ‘ok everything is great. You know, good, the cops are here. We’re safe.’ but in this situation, they didn’t do a damn thing,” said Moore.

After looking at the body-worn cameras, the police chief called what he saw ‘egregious’ and immediately called for an internal affairs investigation.

“Our officers did not summon medical attention. At no time did they check our records system for an address on file to give him a ride home. They did not attempt contact at his residence and locate a family member,” said Sizemore.

“I’m just very much disgusted with how everything played out. I just really am,” said Moore.

JJ’s family is left heartbroken, believing that this tragedy was completely preventable.

“I hold those two officers responsible for his death. Because that was 100% preventable and they failed,” said Moore.

The police chief said neither of the officers had any issues with their records prior to this investigation.

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