Authorities are investigating the fatal shooting by a Florida sheriff’s deputy of two black teenagers who were in a moving car during a meeting with law enforcement.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the Nov. 13 shooting of teens Angelo Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18, both of Cocoa, Fla., Jessica Cary said Friday, a spokesperson for the department. She declined to discuss details, citing the need to protect the integrity of the investigation.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office released a video Nov. 17 of the meeting.
At around 10:30 a.m., two MPs, Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren, were following up on what they believed was a possible stolen car that had “fled another deputy in the Cocoa area,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey wrote. of Brevard County. in a Facebook message.
Dashcam video showed the MPs in each of their cruisers following a car as it spun down a street, then down the driveway of a house in a residential area of Cocoa, about 45 miles east of ‘Orlando. It was not clear how long MPs had been following the car.
The deputies got out of their cars “to try to make contact with the occupants,” Sheriff Ivey said.
The video showed the car coming out of the driveway and heading towards the MPs, whose cruisers were parked on either side of the street.
“Stop the vehicle!” Deputy Santiago-Miranda repeatedly told the driver, who was later identified as Mr. Crooms.
Police said Mr Crooms then drove onto Deputy Santiago-Miranda, who fired his gun “in an attempt to prevent the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him”. In the video, at least eight gunshots were heard hitting the car.
The deputy Santiago-Miranda was the only one to open fire, said Tod Goodyear, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.
Mr Crooms and Mr Pierce were taken to hospitals, where they were later pronounced dead, police said. A third occupant, who has not been identified and who was not injured, was questioned and released, Mr. Goodyear said.
Two guns were found in the car, police said.
Benjamin Crump, Adolescent Family Advocate, said on twitter that the teenagers were “terrified” and tried to get around the MPs.
“Out of danger, the deputy stepped closer to get a better shot” and fired with “intent to kill,” then “continued firing as the car passed,” Mr. Crump wrote.
Eric Smith, Mr Crooms’ father, said the family hoped the MPs would be prosecuted.
“It’s obvious what we’re looking for – justice,” Smith said. “We are looking for answers. There is nothing justifiable in what the Brevard County Sheriffs did.
The family buried Mr Crooms on Saturday, mourning a teenager whom Mr Smith described as a ‘good kid’ who loved football and was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with a living.
Natalie A. Jackson, lawyer for Mr Pierce’s great-aunt and legal guardian Cynthia Green, said the car the teenagers were in belonged to Mr Crooms’ girlfriend and had not been stolen.
In an interview, Ms Green recalled what happened the morning the teens were killed.
She said Mr. Pierce sat in the back seat of the car in front of the house in Cocoa, where she and Mr. Pierce lived. Ms Green said she was also leaving at this time and was getting into her car when she saw MPs pass by.
She was concerned that MPs would harass Mr. Pierce and his friends, so she said she decided to follow them in her own car.
Ms Green, who had cared for Mr Pierce since he was 2 days old, said she saw MPs point their guns at the car minutes later.
“Please don’t shoot! Please don’t shoot! My baby is in this car! she remembers screaming. Deputy Santiago-Miranda then fired, even as the car with the teenagers inside turned away from him, she said.
“My baby left the house at 10:31 am and by 10:33 am he was dead,” Ms. Green said. “This man just kept shooting.
Ms Jackson, the lawyer, said if MPs feared the car was stolen, they could have checked the license plate instead of pulling out their guns.
Mr. Pierce, who was known as Spud, loved music and jokes, Ms. Green said.
“Sincere was a lovely child,” she says. “And he was one of the best dancers as a little kid I could ever imagine.
MPs were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. Once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement completes its investigation, it will present its findings to the state attorney, Ms. Cary said.
Last week, dozens of Cocoa residents held a rally and vigil for the teens. People carried signs and flags that read “Black Lives Matter”.