A Florida sheriff has released dashcam footage of the moment two black teenagers were shot dead after they appeared to drive toward a deputy despite being yelled at to stop at least seven times.
Sincere Pierce, 18, and A.J. Crooms, 16, were fatally shot at 10am Friday morning after deputies from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop them in connection with a possible stolen car.
The deputies involved were named as Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Deputy Carson Hendren on Tuesday as a section of the dashcam footage from their vehicle was released amid mounting pressure from the teens’ families for answers.
Despite criticism from the local community, the sheriff’s office has defended the deputies’ actions and claimed they were ‘forced to fire’ as the teens drove toward them.
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Deputy Jafet Santiago-Miranda of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida is seen firing into the car driving toward him by Sincere Pierce, 18, and A.J. Crooms, 16, last Friday
Sincere Pierce, 18, and A.J. Crooms, 16, were fatally shot at 10am Friday morning after deputies from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop them in connection with a possible stolen car. The office has not yet confirmed whether the car was in fact stolen
Both have been placed on paid administrative leave as the case is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey claimed that the deputies were attempting to conduct an investigation after they spotted the vehicle being drive by Croom and believed it was potentially a stolen car that had fled from another deputy moments earlier, according to Click Orlando.
The incident took place within Cocoa city and it was not immediately clear why the office’s deputies were in the area.
In the footage released Tuesday, deputies Santiago-Miranda and Hendren ae shown pulling up behind the teens’ car as it backs into a driveway of a nearby home.
Both deputies exit their vehicles and as they do so, 16-year-old Croom begins to back out of the driveway again.
Hendren is seen drawing her gun and rounding around her car to point it at the teens’ vehicle, as Santiago-Miranda is seen rounding from the other side and repeating ‘stop the vehicle’.
Crooms continues to turn the car around so it is facing the deputies, whose vehicles block the road. As Crooms begins to drive up into the opposite driveway, he swings toward Santiago-Miranda who continues to shout at him to stop.
In total, the deputies are heard in the footage shouting ‘stop’ seven times.
As the teen continues, the deputies begin to fire into the vehicle and a woman can be heard screaming in the background.
According to Florida Today, the woman was Pierce’s aunt Cynthia Byrd Green, who said she raised him since he was an infant.
She said that she pleaded with deputies not to shoot and saw the whole incident, telling USA Today she believed it was a case of mistaken identity and the deputies were searching for a different car.
Deputy Carson Hendren takes out her gun as the car backs out of the driveway
Crooms reversed the car so that it was facing the sheriff’s deputies
He then became to drive around toward Santiago-Miranda and the officers started to fire after yelling for him to stop the vehicle at least seven times, according to dashcam footage
Hendren is seen approaching Crooms’ car from the far side as they shoot
‘I saw the whole thing from beginning to end. I pleaded with that deputy, “please don’t shoot my son”,’ Green said. ‘I saw my son slump and I just knew…I knew he was dead.’
Ivey said on Tuesday that Santiago-Miranda was ‘forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him’, claiming that the deputy was in immediate danger of the vehicle crashing into him.
The sheriff also claimed that a third person inside the vehicle being driven by Crooms told the Florida Department of Law Enforcement they heard the verbal commands to stop and Crooms still accelerated.
It is not known if this person is being investigated.
The sheriff’s office has also not yet confirmed whether the car the teens were driving was stolen or not but a search of the vehicle found two guns.
AJ Crooms, 16, was driving the car. A third passenger said he heard the commands to stop
The aunt of Sincere Pierce, pictured, saw the shooting and begged deputies not to fire
The case has been picked up by notable civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who on Tuesday claimed that the teenagers posed no threat to the officers in the dashcam footage.
‘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. Believe your own eyes,’ Crump said in a statement.
‘The video shows the deputy was still shooting as the car cleared him and posed no threat.’
He called for any witnesses to come forward and demanded that the sheriff’s office release the full video.
‘Claiming that this deputy discharged 10 shots to get himself out of harm’s way is a clear attempt to justify the killing of these teens. If anything, the deputy appears to have moved closer to the vehicle to get a better shot,’ Crump added in a statement to NewsOne.
‘The video shows that the deputy continued to fire shots into the side of the vehicle as it was passing him, after he was out of harm’s way.
‘This disturbing incident, which cost the lives of two Black teens, again documents the dangers of driving or even riding while Black — since the deputy also shot into the backseat, killing a passenger.’
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey claims the deputies were ‘forced to fire’
Pierce and Crooms, both from the Cocoa area, were taken to hospital after the shooting Friday but pronounced dead. The autopsy on their bodies is delayed until later this week due to coronavirus restrictions.
‘I ask that you keep the family of the two young men in your thoughts and prayers and also our Deputies, as an incident of this magnitude impacts everyone, including our entire community,’ Sherriff Ivey said of the case.
Yet it has already sparked outrage in the local community with a rally held in support of the teens’ families on Wednesday evening.
‘When I saw the video, I said to myself, here we go again because these kinds of occurrences happen over and over and over,’ Reverend Johnnie Dennis told Click Orlando.
‘They did not display lights to indicate that they were pulling them over they just pulled up behind them with guns drawn.’
‘We have to know what happened to them. We need a press conference on their lives just like if someone shot an officer. These were two young men. They are gone from their families forever, regardless,’ added Cocoa City Councilmember Alex Goins on Sunday.
‘I understand about investigations but at the same time, you have to understand this is why the community doesn’t trust you. We need to know what happened to our babies.’
The families of the boys have also spoken out, claiming that sheriff’s office delivered them with no information about the shooting.
‘A friend of the family told me he was shot,’ Crooms’ mother Tasha Strachan told Florida Today. ‘The doctor told me he died. I just feel terrible. My son was sweet and loving. Anybody who knew him loved him.’
The case has been picked up by notable civil rights attorney Ben Crump who on Tuesday claimed that the teenagers posed no threat to the officers in the dashcam footage
A rally for the teens was held on Wednesday night as their families call for answers
According to Ivey, Santiago-Miranda has been employed with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office since February 2017 and Hendren has been a deputy there since June 2018.
Neither of their personal files have yet been released.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the case, as is standard practice with deadly police shootings.
The department said it will hand its findings over the state attorney’s office once the investigation is complete to determine if charges are warranted.
‘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,’ the state attorney’s office said in a statement.
‘Our commitment to justice is the fundamental and guiding principle in every such decision.’