The family of an unarmed Florida man who died in an execution-style shooting earlier in the month, are demanding that authorities arrest the person who pulled the trigger.
On the afternoon of Feb. 3, Dominic Jerome “D.J.” Broadus II, a 31-year-old Jacksonville native described as a “storyteller” who was “loved”, “loyal”, and a “great dad,” was found dead in the back of a home located at Southern States Nursery Road outside of Macclenny, Fla.
Although Broadus’ family isn’t “100 percent” sure of what happened to him, the fact remains that he was unarmed and shot “three times” in the head, “at close range.”
“Initially they told us nothing,” Chioma Iwuoha, Broadus’ cousin, shared with VIBE of how authorities in Baker County handled the investigation. “That’s why we made a call to the community, because police weren’t answering our questions.”
Broadus’ father, Dominic Jerome Broadus Sr., identified his son via a photo shown to him by authorities. The family didn’t physically see his body until three days after he was killed, Iwuoha said. She also pointed out that Broadus’ car was towed after he was killed, and that his father had to pay $330 to get it back.
At approximately 3:45 p.m., officers responded to a call of a shooting at the home where they found Broadus’ body in the back of the residence, according to reports from police and the medical examiner.
Also at the home was Gardner Kent Fraser, the son of a former Florida sheriff’s deputy. Fraser was “escorted” to the sheriff’s office where he was questioned and released.
While Broadus was considered an “outsider” in Baker County, Fraser is a longtime “well-connected” resident, a message on the “Justice 4 DJ Broadus” Facebook page reads.
“The fact that our son was an outsider in Baker County and the suspect is a longtime, well-connected, Baker County resident, gives us great concerns about the fairness of the process,” the message, which was posted on Feb. 13, explains. “As parents, our hopes are that a thorough, honest, and unbiased investigation will be conducted.”
At least one other person was at the home where Broadus died, but according to The Root, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office redacted the person’s name from the police report, as well as further details about the crime scene. Broadus’ cell phone was also never recovered.
Last week, Broadus’ family held a town hall meeting regarding the case.
Founded in 1861, and named after a Confederate senator, Baker County is a community with a legacy of racial disparity. A mural featuring KKK members still hangs inside the Baker County Courthouse, despite a 2015 petition to have it removed. Last May, Baker County made national headlines after a photo of black students at Baker County High School with nooses drawn around their necks, began circulating on social media.
And when it comes to gun violence and unarmed black victims, the Fraser family has it’s own history. In 2009, Fraser’s father, deputy Ryan T. Fraser, was fired for shooting an unarmed black man while responding to a robbery call. Although Ryan claimed he thought the alleged suspect had a gun, former Jacksonville sheriff John Rutherford, concluded that the officer’s actions were “unacceptable.”
Ryan became the third Jacksonville officer involved in a shooting that Rutherford fired when he took office in 2003. Meanwhile, Ryan found another job working in law enforcement in Macclenny, and retired in 2017.
Amid talk of a conflict of interest, and to maintain transparency, the Baker County Sheriff’s department turned over the Broadus case to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But authorities have yet to make an arrest, and the family says that they’re not being updated on the status of the investigation.
In the meantime, Broadus’ loved ones have launched a You Caring account aimed at raising $100,000 to pay for an independent autopsy and legal expenses.
Iwuoha believes that Broadus will become a “catalyst” for change in the legal system within Baker County.
“A lot of people in the community are tired of the nepotism.”