Jacksonville, Florida — On January 19, 2023, detectives from the narcotics and vice section were conducting surveillance on a known drug dealer, Brian Brightman. The detectives knew Brightman was located inside a van and an apartment complex parking lot located in the 13200 block of North Main Street. In the driver’s seat of that van was the man later identified as 38-year-old Eric Nathaniel Thornton. After observing what appeared to be an illegal drug transaction being committed from the van, detectives used their vehicles to block the van’s movement and then attempted to detain the occupants.
The detectives were outfit in tactical uniforms that clearly identified them as police. As they approached the van, Thornton opened the driver’s side door and fled on foot. Several of the detectives immediately pursued Thornton to detain him. As they were doing so, they observed that Thornton was armed with a knife in his hand. The officers gave multiple commands for Thornton to drop his knife. Instead, Thornton continues to flee while still holding the knife in his hand. It is at this point the two detectives fired multiple shots at Thornton, resulting in him falling to the ground.
Immediately following the shooting, JSO detectives provided first aid on the scene as a rescue unit was called. The Rescue Unit transported Thornton to a local Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Brightman was removed from the back of the van and taken into custody. Detectives also located an eight-year-old child in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. The child was removed without harm and turned over to a family member at the scene. Two knives and two grams of fentanyl were found at the scene. Brightman was charged with the felony offenses of the sale of Fentanyl, child abuse, and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device.