MELBOURNE, Fla. – New evidence connected to the fatal shooting of two teenagers by a Florida sheriff’s deputy raised questions over police’s initial justification for the shooting.
The deaths of Angelo Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18, in a Cocoa neighborhood Nov. 13 captured national interest and provoked protests. Family and community members said police offered very little information about what happened in the days after the shooting, and many questioned whether the use of deadly force was merited.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the families of the two teens, came to Brevard County on Saturday with his co-counsel Natalie Jackson, saying they would seek justice.
Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputies Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement whose conclusions should be presented to the State Attorney’s Office in the next 60 to 90 days.
Here’s what we know about the case:
When can cops shoot at a moving vehicle? It depends
What happened during shooting?
Crooms and Pierce, both of Cocoa, died Friday after being shot by Santiago-Miranda. Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey said they charged the deputy in their car. Santiago-Miranda and Hendren were attempting to stop the vehicle, which Ivey said matched a possibly stolen car that fled a traffic stop in the area.
Jackson, an attorney for Pierce’s aunt, and family members said a family friend loaned the car to the boys. At a rally Saturday, lawyers for the families blamed the deputies for not running a check on the car’s license plate before attempting to stop it with guns drawn.
Ivey said in a news release that two guns were found in the car. It’s unclear who had the weapons or whether they were used to threaten the deputies.
Dashcam video brings argument
Four days after the shooting, Ivey released dashcam footage from Santiago-Miranda’s police vehicle in a Facebook post.
Ivey pointed out the deputy repeated commands to stop the car seven times when Crooms, the driver, “accelerates the vehicle towards Deputy Santiago-Miranda who was then forced to fire his service weapon in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him.”
“You can actually see the tires of the vehicle turn sharply as the car accelerates towards Deputy Santiago-Miranda who is now in immediate danger of being struck by the vehicle,” Ivey wrote.
Santiago-Miranda fired his service weapon at least nine times.
The families contend that the video shows Crooms trying to avoid the deputy.
Crump appears in Florida after hundreds protest at peaceful rally
Hours after Crooms was laid to rest at a Cocoa-area cemetery, family and friends of both teens released handfuls of white balloons into the air at a park Saturday.
Crump led the crowd in a chant of “Black lives matter,” saying the two teenagers’ lives mattered.
I want us to continue to say that until Sheriff (Wayne) Ivey hears us every day to the point where they cannot ignore Black lives being taken unnecessarily at the hands of these people who are supposed to be trained to preserve life, not to take life,” Crump said.
Crump and Jackson focused on how the vehicle had not been reported stolen and Crooms had permission by the vehicle’s owner to use it.
At least 200 people turned out at one of the county’s busiest intersections Wednesday to protest the fatal shooting.
Protesters at the peaceful, loosely organized rally – mostly young, mostly Black – called for justice in Croom and Pierce’s deaths and for greater transparency and accountability from the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy involved had history of problems
Newly released documents from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office shed light on the behavior of Santiago-Miranda in the months before the deadly shooting.
The incidents include a reported physical confrontation and alleged threats against a Titusville police officer.
The documents show Santiago-Miranda had a record of minor violations of agency policy, which included twice being cited for improper procedure while attempting to stop fleeing vehicles.
Prosecutors did not file charges: Deputy involved in deadly shooting of teens has history of violence
Incident under investigation
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
According to former Oviedo police chief Chuck Drago, investigators will have to look at each and every shot fired in the incident. Each use of force will need to be justified under Florida law, and each bullet counts as a separate use of force.
“From the video … you can see bullet holes in the side of the car. You know, that gives you reason for a lot of questions. If an officer’s life is in danger, is it still in danger once the car has passed him?” asked Drago who works regularly as an expert witness in court cases.
Drago said he was surprised to see Sheriff Ivey declare the shooting justified on social media days after it took place and long before the FDLE investigation was completed.
Contributing: Eric Rogers, J.D. Gallop, Florida Today
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida deputy shot two Black teens, hundreds protest: What we know