Damning new video of the Nov. 13 shooting of two Black teenagers has been released that clearly shows Florida police officers unleashing a hail of bullets at a car in the latest high-profile case of excessive police violence.
On Tuesday, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office released dashcam video footage that shows deputies firing on the car in last Friday’s incident that claimed the lives of Sincere Pierce, 18, and Angelo “AJ” Crooms, 16.
The shooting occurred in the suburban Cocoa neighborhood at around 10:30 a.m., but officers didn’t confirm the killings until Monday.
The sheriff’s office released the footage after the attorney for the bereaved families, civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, demanded further information about the events leading up to and including the shooting.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office claimed that the teens were being pulled over to ascertain info about a “possible stolen car” before the teens attempted to flee, which “forced” a deputy to begin firing at the car. Officials tried to frame the video as offering clear proof of the necessity of using lethal force.
In the Facebook post, the sheriff’s office said that Deputies Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren were following the car in two different squad cars during a follow-up investigation into the robbery of a car. The events unfolded when the car pulled into the driveway of a home.
The edited and incomplete dashcam video shows Santiago-Miranda repeatedly barking “stop the vehicle” and demanding that they exit the vehicle as the car is backing out of the driveway. The car then halts, backs up a bit, and drives toward Santiago-Miranda.
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 said. However, It remains unclear whether the teenagers heard the commands.
The families of Pierce and Crooms claim that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has given them no information regarding the killings, according to Florida Today.
“I was angry about it, I was angry because I miss him,” Crooms’ mother Tasha Strachan told WKMG. “I want answers to why that was done, it didn’t have to be done like that.”
However, the incomplete video released by authorities raises further questions about the botched traffic stop, and suggests that the teens’ attempt to flee occurred only seconds before the officer decided to use lethal force.
On Wednesday, Crump said in a tweet that the video suggests that the teens were terrified and were only trying to drive around the deputies. Meanwhile, Santiago-Miranda – who was clearly out of harm’s way – moved closer to the car to get a better shot, he added.
Crump further encouraged viewers to “Believe your own eyes” when watching the disturbing dashcam 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 told NewsOne in a statement. “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.”
Furthermore, public records on Deputy Santiago-Miranda show that the officer has a disturbing rap sheet of his own.
Records from the Osceola Clerk of Courts reported on Wednesday by local news website The Space Coast Rocket show that in 2008, Santiago-Miranda was found guilty of burglary to a dwelling unarmed and aggravated assault with a firearm. On April 20th of this year, Deputy Miranda was also charged with domestic violence with children.
The two deputies involved in the killing of the teens have since been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
In the meantime, the local community has rallied around the family of the two slain teens and demanded justice and an end to police violence against Black residence.
The teens’ cousin, Charity Baxter, told WKMG that she wants to know why the officers determined that the only solution to the situation was through deadly force.
“When you did approach him, why was the first thing to shoot?” Baxter said.
The family of Pierce have also said that they are only seeking justice for their lost loved ones.
“I’m looking for a little closure,” Pierce’s mother Qausheda Pierce said. “We want some answers.”
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has yet to announce whether the car the teens were in was actually stolen or if any weapons were recovered from the vehicle.
In the meantime, attorney Crump is demanding that local authorities release the raw footage in its entirety while requesting that “anyone with additional video evidence, including neighbors with home surveillance cams, to come forward so that we can have a clearer picture of the facts in this case.”
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