On January 19, 2023, detectives from the narcotics and vice section were observing Brian Brightman, a well-known drug seller, as part of an investigation.
The investigators had the knowledge that Brightman was situated in a van and an apartment complex carpark at 13200 North Main Street. In the driver’s seat of the vehicle, there was a 38-year-old man known as Eric Nathaniel Thornton.
The detectives saw what looked like a prohibited drug deal taking place in a van and quickly utilized their own cars to block the van. Afterward, they tried to arrest the people inside.
The detectives made their way towards the van wearing tactical uniforms. Once there, Thornton opened the door of the driver’s side and ran away from the scene. A few of the detectives then gave chase to apprehend Thornton.
As the officers approached Thornton, they noticed he was carrying a knife. They ordered him to put it down, yet he kept running while still gripping the knife. This is when the detectives fired multiple shots at him, causing Thornton to collapse.
As soon as the shooting had occurred, detectives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) administered medical assistance on the spot, and a rescue team was summoned.
The Rescue Unit brought Thornton to a nearby Hospital, where he was declared dead. Brightman was taken out of the back of the van and arrested. Additionally, investigators discovered an 8-year-old child in the front passenger seat of the car.
The child was safely taken away and given to a relative that was present. Upon inspection, two knives and two grams of fentanyl were discovered. As a result, Brightman was accused of the crimes of selling fentanyl, child abuse, and unlawfully using a two-way communication device, all of which are felonies.