Fatal Shooting of 2 Black Teenagers by Florida Deputy Is Under Investigation

The authorities are investigating the fatal shooting by a Florida sheriff’s deputy of two Black teenagers who were in a moving car during an encounter with law enforcement.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the Nov. 13 shooting of the teenagers, Angelo Crooms, 16, and Sincere Pierce, 18, both of Cocoa, Fla., Jessica Cary, a department spokeswoman, said on Friday. She declined to discuss details, citing the need to protect the integrity of the investigation.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office released a video on Nov. 17 of the encounter.

At about 10:30 a.m., two deputies, Jafet Santiago-Miranda and Carson Hendren, were following up on what they thought was a possible stolen car that had “fled from another Deputy in the Cocoa area,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County wrote in a Facebook post.

Dashcam video showed the deputies in each of their cruisers following a car as it turned onto a street and then into the driveway of a house in a residential neighborhood in Cocoa, which is about 45 miles east of Orlando. It was not clear how long the deputies had been following the car.
The deputies got out of their cars “in an attempt to make contact with the occupants,” Sheriff Ivey said.

The video showed the car backing out of the driveway and moving in the direction of the deputies, whose cruisers were parked on each side of the street.

“Stop the vehicle!” Deputy Santiago-Miranda repeatedly told the driver, who was later identified as Mr. Crooms.

The police said that Mr. Crooms then drove at Deputy Santiago-Miranda, who fired his gun “in an attempt to stop the deadly threat of the car from crashing into him.” On the video, at least eight shots could be heard striking the car.

Deputy Santiago-Miranda was the only deputy who opened fire, Tod Goodyear, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said.

Mr. Crooms and Mr. Pierce were taken to hospitals, where they were later pronounced dead, the police said. A third occupant, who was not identified and who was not injured, was interviewed and released, Mr. Goodyear said.

Two firearms were found in the car, the police said.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the teenagers’ families, said on Twitter that the teenagers were “terrified” and trying to drive around the deputies.

“Out of harm’s way, the deputy moved closer to get a better shot,” and fired with the “intent to kill,” and “then kept firing as the car passed by,” Mr. Crump wrote.

Eric Smith, Mr. Crooms’s father, said the family hoped the deputies would be prosecuted.

“It’s obvious what we’re looking for — justice,” Mr. Smith said. “We’re looking for answers. There’s nothing justifiable about what the Brevard County sheriffs did.”

The family buried Mr. Crooms on Saturday, mourning a teenager whom Mr. Smith described as a “good kid” who liked football and was trying to figure out what he wanted to do in life.

Natalie A. Jackson, a lawyer for Mr. Pierce’s great-aunt and legal guardian, Cynthia Green, said the car that the teenagers were in belonged to Mr. Crooms’s girlfriend and was not stolen.

In an interview, Ms. Green recalled what happened on the morning the teenagers were killed.

She said Mr. Pierce had gotten into the back seat of the car outside the house in Cocoa, where she and Mr. Pierce lived. Ms. Green said she was also leaving at that time and was getting into her car when she saw the deputies drive by.

She was concerned that the deputies might harass Mr. Pierce and his friends, so she said she decided to follow them in her own car.

Ms. Green, who had cared for Mr. Pierce since he was 2 days old, said she saw the deputies point their guns at the car minutes later.

“Please, don’t shoot! Please, don’t shoot! My baby’s in that car!” she recalled screaming. Deputy Santiago-Miranda then fired, even though the car with the teenagers inside was turning away from him, she said.
“My baby left home at 10:31, and at 10:33 he was dead,” Ms. Green said. “That man just kept shooting.”

Ms. Jackson, the lawyer, said that if the deputies were concerned that the car had been stolen, they could have checked the license plate instead of drawing their weapons.

Mr. Pierce, who was known as Spud, loved music and cracking jokes, Ms. Green said.

“Sincere was a lovable child,” she said. “And he was one of the best dancers as a little child I could ever imagine.”

The deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. Once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has concluded its investigation, it will present its findings to the state attorney, Ms. Cary said.

Last week, dozens of Cocoa residents held a rally and vigil for the teens. People carried signs and flags that read “Black Lives Matter.”

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