Two Black teenagers were killed Friday (Nov. 13) when a Florida sheriff's deputy fired into the car they were driving and now their distraught families demand to know more details about what led to the incident and why deadly force was used.
A.J. Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18, were being followed by police officers in Cocoa, Fla., who say they were investigating a stolen car, according to CBS News. The officers tailed the vehicle as it drove through a residential neighborhood and pulled into a driveway. The dashcam video released on Tuesday (Nov. 17) shows two separate squad cars pulling up and deputies getting out while the car then backs out of the driveway. One of the deputies, Jafet Santiago-Miranda, ordered the driver to stop the vehicle.
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The car stopped, but then backed up even more and began to advance in Santiago-Miranda’s direction, which is when he opened fire with his service weapon, killing the two teens, one who was sitting in the backseat. A third unidentified person in the vehicle survived the shooting unharmed, according to local station WKMG.
Santiago-Miranda has been placed on paid administrative leave. Although a second deputy at the scene, Carson Hendren, did not fire her weapon, she has also been placed on administrative leave as per Brevard County Sheriff’s Department policy.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who now represents the families of the teens, said that Santiago-Miranda was not within his rights to fire on the car 10 times and the footage shows that he was in no imminent danger as the footage appears to show the deputy moving closer to the vehicle to get a better shot.
“After reviewing the limited footage released by Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, it is painfully troubling to us that this teen driver and the teen backseat passenger were terrified and drove around deputies who approached the vehicle with guns drawn,” said Crump in a statement. “Believe your own eyes. The video shows the deputy was still shooting as the car cleared him and posed no threat.”
The family and community want to see the full dashcam video of the incident and also want to know why deadly force was necessary.
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“I was angry about it, I was angry because I miss him,” said Crooms’ mother Tasha Strachan, according to WKMG. “I want answers to why that was done, it didn’t have to be done like that.”
Pierce’s mother, Qausheda Pierce, echoed that sentiment. “I’m looking for a little closure,” she said. “We want some answers.”
It is unclear if the vehicle the teens were driving was in fact the suspected stolen car. Officials said two guns were found in the car, but it is not known who they belong to or if the guns were also stolen. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the case.