Video released by a Florida sheriff’s office shows two deputies pulling their weapons and one firing at a car as it drives near him in a shooting that killed two Black teenagers. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office released the video Tuesday after the teenagers’ families and their attorney, famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, demanded more information about last Friday’s events that led to the fatal shooting of A.J. Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18.
The sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post that Deputies Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren were doing a follow-up investigation on what they thought was a stolen car. When they spotted the car, they followed it as it drove through a residential neighborhood and then pulled into the driveway of a home.
Dashcam video shows the deputies, in two different squad cars, getting out of their vehicles as the car they are following starts backing out of the driveway. Santiago-Miranda says repeatedly, “Stop the vehicle.”
The vehicle stops for a few seconds, backs up a bit and then drives in the direction of Santiago-Miranda as the deputy fires his weapon, according to the video.
Santiago-Miranda “was then forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him,” the sheriff’s office Facebook post said.
Crump said Wednesday in a tweet that the video shows the teens were terrified and tried to drive around the deputies. Out of harm’s way, Santiago-Miranda moved closer to the car to get a better shot, Crump said.
Crump has previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake.
“I was angry about it, I was angry because I miss him,” Crooms’ mother Tasha Strachan told CBS affiliate WKMG-TV. “I want answers to why that was done, it didn’t have to be done like that.”
The deputies involved in the fatal shooting have been put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Meanwhile, scores of protesters carrying signs that said “Who Do You Call When Police Murder?” and “Prosecute the Police,” walked along a busy road in Cocoa on Wednesday evening, chanting “Justice for A.J. Justice for Spud,” a nickname for Pierce.
WKMG reports the teens’ cousin, Charity Baxter, wants to know why deadly force was necessary in this situation.
“When you did approach him, why was the first thing to shoot?” Baxter said.
Pierce’s family said they are asking for justice.
“I’m looking for a little closure,” Pierce’s mother Qausheda Pierce said. “We want some answers.”
In a news release, the Office of the State Attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit, which oversees cases in Brevard County, addressed inquiries on the case while also offering condolences to the families of the victims.
“The role of the State Attorney in this investigation and in conducting our review is to determine whether a criminal violation of Florida law has occurred, whether any person may be held criminally responsible, and whether such criminal responsibility can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Our commitment to justice is the fundamental and guiding principle in every such decision,” a spokesperson said.
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