By Rich McKay and Daniel Trotta
ATLANTA (Reuters) – Officials on Wednesday released video of the traffic stop and physical confrontation that ended with a sheriff deputy in Georgia shooting a Black man to death at point-blank range.
Leonard Allan Cure, 53, died on Monday after a Camden County sheriff’s deputy shot him; the officer has not been officially identified. Cure was exonerated in 2020 after being wrongfully convicted of armed robbery and serving 16 years in prison.
The case is the latest in a series of police shootings of unarmed Black men that have raised questions about race relations and police use of force in America.
His family has retained civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who has won multimillion-dollar settlements for the relatives of others killed by police. Crump said at a news conference on Wednesday that the officer had acted too aggressively.
The Camden County Sheriff’s Office said in a posting online the video was released because of rumors and misinformation, but did not elaborate.
A representative for the sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.
The Camden County Sheriff’s office released three videos, one from the deputy’s body camera and two from his vehicle’s camera, that show the deputy pulled Cure over for speeding and immediately shouted at him to get out of the car. The deputy later told Cure on the video that Cure was driving 100 miles per hour (160 kph) on Interstate 95 in southern Georgia.
In the altercation which lasted just under 3 minutes, Cure argues with the deputy but complies with his orders to get out of the truck and put his hands on the tailgate, the video shows.
Cure then does not comply with orders to put his hands behind his back, and the deputy shoots him with a Taser stun gun, the video shows. At that point Cure and the deputy grapple with each other, with both men grabbing each other around the face and neck, the video shows.
Cure is heard saying “Yeah, bitch,” twice as the deputy says “sit down” multiple times, the video shows.
The deputy hits Cure with a baton and then fires one shot at point blank range with his service weapon and a pop is heard, according to the video.
After telling Cure to “stay down” after he briefly struggled to sit up, the deputy then handcuffs Cure, prone on the asphalt, and begins to render aid, the video shows. Other uniformed personnel arrive and attempt to revive Cure with chest compressions, but his body is eventually loaded into an ambulance, the video shows.
Cure’s family watched the video Wednesday at a Georgia Bureau of Investigation office with their attorney just before it was released by Camden County, in southern Georgia.
At a news conference organized by Crump’s law firm and posted online, Cure’s brother Wallace Cure said there was “absolutely no reason why my brother was murdered for a traffic stop.” They said Cure was driving to his home in the Atlanta area from Florida after visiting his mother.
Crump blamed the deputy for acting too aggressively from the start and possibly “triggering” Cure, who the family said suffers from emotional stress from his years in prison.
“We don’t understand why there weren’t more attempts to de-escalate the situation,” Crump said.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Kat Stafford and Gerry Doyle)