Videos Show Deputy Fatally Shooting Leonard Cure in Georgia

Videos Show Deputy Fatally Shooting Leonard Cure in Georgia | ltc-a

Dash-camera and body-camera videos released on Wednesday show how a traffic stop in Georgia turned violent and then deadly in less than three minutes when a sheriff’s deputy shot a Black man who had been wrongfully imprisoned for more than 16 years.

The man, Leonard Cure, 53, was stopped on Monday morning on Interstate 95 in Camden County, Ga., not far from the Florida state line. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office said he had been driving more than 100 miles per hour in a 70 m.p.h. zone.

Footage released on Wednesday by the sheriff’s office shows a deputy, whose name has not been released, stopping Mr. Cure’s pickup truck on the side of the highway. The deputy orders Mr. Cure to step out of the truck and put his hands on the back of the vehicle.

Mr. Cure gets out, saying he had done nothing wrong, and pulls his arm away as the deputy tries to take hold of it. The deputy tells Mr. Cure to step back or be Tased. He then pulls out his Taser, points it at Mr. Cure and, once again, orders him to step to the rear of the truck.

Mr. Cure walks to the back of the truck and puts his hands on the vehicle. The deputy tells Mr. Cure to put his hands behind his back. Mr. Cure keeps them on the truck and questions why he is being stopped.

“Do I have a warrant?” Mr. Cure asks. The deputy tells him again to put his hands behind his back or be Tased.

“You are under arrest for speeding and reckless driving,” the deputy says, adding that Mr. Cure had passed him “doing 100 miles an hour.”

“OK, so that’s a speeding ticket, right?” Mr. Cure says, to which the deputy responds that “tickets in the state of Georgia are criminal offenses.”

As the two continue to argue, Mr. Cure ignores the deputy’s commands to put his hands behind his back. The deputy tells Mr. Cure, “Yes, you are going to jail,” and Mr. Cure points at the sky.

The deputy then Tases Mr. Cure, who freezes and then walks toward the deputy, flailing his arms. The two get into a violent struggle, with their arms wrapped around each other.

Mr. Cure grabs the deputy’s face, pushing his head and body back and cursing at him, as the deputy strikes Mr. Cure with his baton. The deputy then shoots Mr. Cure, and yells at him to stay down.

Other deputies and medical workers arrive and attend to Mr. Cure, who is lying on the ground. He later died.

Mr. Cure’s family watched the footage at a Georgia Bureau of Investigation office with their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, just before it was released on Wednesday. They said it showed that the deputy was aggressive and failed to de-escalate the encounter.

“My brother did turn and get a bit physical but, for the most part, he was completely compliant,” Michael Cure, one of Mr. Cure’s brothers, told reporters. “I believe there were possibly some issues going on, some mental issues with my brother. I know him quite well. The officer just triggered him, undoubtedly triggered him. It was excitement met with excitement.”

Wallace Cure, another of Mr. Cure’s brothers, said there was “absolutely no reason why my brother was murdered for a traffic stop.”

“There was an altercation,” he said, but added that he had seen other confrontational encounters with law enforcement “and the person did not end up dead.”

Mr. Crump said that the deputy might have triggered Mr. Cure’s post-traumatic stress when he told him he was going to jail.

“When you’ve been wrongfully convicted, and then they’re talking about taking you back to the cage?” Mr. Crump said. “It’s psychological at that point.”

The Camden County Sheriff’s Office said the videos “show that law enforcement is transparent regarding the actions that occurred Monday morning, including the dash camera video of the truck speeding in excess of 100 m.p.h., and being operated in a reckless manner.”

“Also the body camera video that the deputy was wearing reveals the confrontation and use of force,” the office said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, said it had no update on the case.

Mr. Cure was convicted in 2003 of the armed robbery of a Walgreens in Broward County, Fla. He was sentenced to life in prison, based on prior convictions. In 2020, he was exonerated and released based on a finding of “actual innocence,” according to the Innocence Project of Florida.

An A.T.M. receipt “proved that Lenny was miles away from the crime scene at the time of the robbery,” the Innocence Project said in a statement after his death. A re-investigation also concluded that a photo array shown to one of the victims contained several photos of Mr. Cure and was therefore unreliable and suggestive, the statement said.

Based on those findings, Florida recognized that Mr. Cure “was actually innocent,” the statement said. He was the first person exonerated by the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit.

In June, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida approved legislation that gave Mr. Cure $817,000 and educational benefits for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.

He had recently used the money to buy a home in Palmetto, Ga., and was driving there from his mother’s house in Florida when he was shot, according to Seth Miller, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida.

“It’s incredibly tragic,” Mr. Miller said. “People will debate whether it was justified or not. But that’s not what I’m concerned about. The whole incident didn’t need to happen like that. Had it been approached in a less hostile way from law enforcement, Leonard would have made it home.”