By Garry Smits
GateHouse Media Services
JACKSONVILLE — The attorney for Jabar Gaffney said his client told him he had nothing to do with incident last week in Jacksonville Beach in which former Raines High and University of Florida teammate Lito Sheppard accused him and an unidentified woman of vandalizing his car and causing around $14,000 in damage.
Sheppard also told police that he and Gaffney have had a personal dispute dating back six years.
“Jabar said he is not the person involved,” said Seth Adam Schwartz of the Schwartz Law Group. “He said he hasn’t even seen Lito in three years and he’s very aggravated that his name is coming up in this. He doesn’t know why this is happening.”
Sheppard reported to Jacksonville Beach police that he was driving home after eating at the Pier Cantina restaurant last Monday. His BMW developed trouble after going only three blocks and he had to stop and have it towed. It was discovered that an unknown substance had been poured into the gas tank and the tires puctured.
Sheppard, according to the police report, went back to the restaurant and was allowed to view its security video. Sheppard then identified Gaffney pouring the substance into his gas tank and an unidentified woman puncturing the tires.
No arrests have been made as of Saturday and Schwartz said police have yet to contact his client for his side of the story.
As far as the restaurant’s security video is concerned, Schwartz said Gaffney said, “it’s not him.”
Gaffney also has a misdemeanor drug possession charge pending of not more than 20 grams of marijuana stemming from a June 6 incident in which police discovered the substance on Gaffney during their response to another incident.
According to the police report, Gaffney was a witness to the incident, which Schwartz said involved a woman who was intent on hurting herself, which Gaffney helped stop by calling 911 and then following the woman on foot as she drove away.
Schwartz said first responders reached the woman before she could harm herself. He declined to describe the nature of any relationship between Gaffney and the woman.
The police report said Gaffney asked for a ride home but the officer told him he would have to empty his pockets and put the contents in a paper bag before he would allow him in the patrol car.
The officer noted in his report that Gaffney hesitated and he then saw a bulge in Gaffney’s right pocket of his cargo shorts. He asked Gaffney to produce the contents, which was identified as marijuana.
Gaffney pleaded not guilty on June 13 and a trial date has been set for July 2.
Schwartz said the police report is inaccurate.
“They asked Jabar to step into the police car to take his statement, then said they had to pat him down before he did,” Schwartz said. “They found a small amount of marijuana. For helping them save this girl’s life, he gets an NTA (notice to appear). He was trying to do the right thing.”
Gaffney has pleaded no contest and paid small fines for two previous misdemeanor marijuana charges, in 2006 and 2017. He also was arrested on Sept. 27, 2017 on domestic battery charges but the state attorney decided not to prosecute four days before a scheduled Oct. 31 arraignment date.
Garry Smits is a sports writer with the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.